A first-degree felony in Texas is the second-most severe type of conviction. A conviction can result in a life sentence, fines of up to $10,000, and the collateral damage that comes with a criminal record.
Texas Felony Classifications
Felonies are split into five levels of charges depending on the severity of the crime. The most serious level of felony in Texas is a capital felony, followed by a first-degree felony, a second-degree felony, a third-degree felony, and finally, a state jail felony.
Although state jail felonies are labeled as felonies, they don’t result in jail time unless a court orders this. State jail felonies are more serious than misdemeanors, and they can be enhanced or reclassified as third-degree felonies if there are aggravating factors to consider.
Third-degree felonies are considered serious crimes, with penalties that can include up to 10 years in jail, and fines of up to $10,000.
The penalty for a capital felony, which is the only conviction above a first-degree felony, is a life sentence without parole, or execution.
What Is a First Degree Felony in Texas?
First-degree felonies are one of the most severe types of crimes in Texas, second only to capital felonies. Crimes that are classified as first-degree felonies include murder, aggravated sexual assault, and aggravated robbery.
As such, convictions carry harsh penalties that can permanently and negatively impact a convicted person’s life. Punishments for first-degree felonies can include life imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines. Collateral consequences can be life-lasting.
First Degree Felony Examples
Examples of some first-degree felonies include the following:
- Aggravated robbery
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Arson causing death
- Causing serious bodily injury to a child, elderly person, or disabled person
- Solicitation of capital murder
- Trafficking of children under the age of fourteen
Penalties for First Degree Felonies in Texas
The punishments for first-degree felonies in Texas are harsh. They can include:
- Between 5 years and 99 years in jail
- Life imprisonment
- Up to $10,000 fines
- Community supervision or probation (if eligible)
Collateral Consequences of a Conviction for a First Degree Felony in Texas
First-degree felony convictions will have lasting consequences beyond the initial jail time and financial hit. The conviction can negatively impact various aspects of a person’s life, including their employment status, career, studies, and their general quality of life even after the punishment has ended.
Collateral consequences can include:
- Losing your right to vote
- Losing the right to own or possess firearms
- Having your professional certifications and licenses revoked
- Being prevented from pursuing professional certifications
A criminal conviction of this kind will always show up on background checks run by potential employers, landlords, banks, and more. In short, it will make it difficult to find a job, difficult to find a home, and difficult to take out a loan.
First-degree convictions can be the cause of serious financial hardships, as well as the loss of reputation amongst colleagues, friends, family, and the local community.
Probation for First Degree Felony Conviction in Texas
In some circumstances, especially in first convictions, community supervision or probation may be an option. Community supervision is usually only available to defendants who have been sentenced to 10 years or less in jail.
Community supervision allows the defendant to spend their sentence out in the community instead of in jail, but in return, they must follow strict conditions, including routine reporting with a community supervision officer, regular inspections, drug tests, and more. If the defendant is found to have violated the conditions, then the supervision can be revoked, and the original jail sentence will commence.
Defendants who have previous felony convictions, or those who have been convicted of a 3G offense in Texas, usually do not have community supervision as an option. 3G offenses are considered to be the most violent crimes, and as such, defendants are required to serve at least half of their sentences before becoming eligible for parole.
3G offenses include (but are not limited to):
- Capital murder
- Indecency with a child
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated robbery
- Human trafficking
Enhancing Second-Degree Felonies Into First-Degree
Second-degree felonies can be enhanced into first-degree felonies in some cases. According to the Texas Penal Code section 12.46, if someone has a previous felony conviction, and they are charged with a second-degree felony, the defendant will be punished for a felony of the first degree.
Other second-degree felonies that could face enhancements include convictions for violent crimes against a protected person, including police officers, and drug offenses in which there was a large volume of drugs involved.
A first-degree felony conviction carries hefty consequences. If you or someone you care about has been charged with a felony, you need to get in touch with an experienced criminal defense lawyer and start building a strong defense case as soon as possible. Michael & Associates will always fight for the best possible outcome.