In Texas, when a person is charged with a crime, it will be considered a misdemeanor or a felony. A felony is more serious than a misdemeanor. They must be presented to a grand jury, which is a group of citizens who determine whether there is enough evidence, or probable cause, for the case to move forward.
State Jail Felony
In Texas, state jail felonies are punishable by 180 days to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000. State jails are low-risk facilities that are operated at lower costs than state prisons, which house inmates convicted of first, second, and third degree felonies. Texas legislature created this lower level felony to address the overcrowding in prisons caused by extensive prosecution of drug related crimes. Unlike time served in county jail or prison, a state sentence mist be served day-for-day. An inmate cannot earn good conduct time or parole in a state jail facility. State jail felonies are the least severe of all felonies. The penalties of a conviction, though, are still significant. Do not make the mistake of waiting to speak with a criminal defense attorney about your charge.
Texas Penal Code 12.44(a)
Because an inmate cannot earn good conduct time or parole in state jail facility, they often seek a reduction in punishment through 12.44(a) or 12.44(b). Under Section 12.44(a) of the Texas Penal Code, a state jail felony can be punished as a Class A misdemeanor if a judge believes it’s in the best interest of justice after considering the gravity and circumstances of the offense and the history, character and rehabilitate needs of the defendant. Instead of doing six months to two years in a state jail facility, the defendant will face up to a year in county jail where good time credit may be offered or two years probation. Furthermore, a 12.44(a) does not require the prosecution’s consent. The judge can decide to do that at sentencing and it’s not limited to only plea bargains.
Texas Penal Code 12.44(b)
Section B requires the prosecutor to agree to the reduction. If done so, 12.44(b) has the same two possible sentences but does not result in a felony conviction. A conviction under 12.44(b) is a misdemeanor conviction and cannot later be used to enhance other felony offenses.
Third Degree Felony
Third degree felonies in Texas are a more serious charge than a state jail felony and misdemeanors. Punishment involves prison time of 2 to 10 years and a fine up to $10,000. Community supervision may also be involved.