Felonies in Texas

Crimes in Texas are generally classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. Felony offenses are generally considered more serious and have greater criminal penalties, including longer prison sentencing. Misdemeanors generally have a maximum penalty of up to 1 year in jail. Felonies can include up to life in prison or the death penalty for capital murder.

Felony criminal charges should be handled by an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands how serious these charges can be. If you or a family member is facing felony criminal charges in Texas, contact an Odessa criminal lawyer to understand your rights and fight a criminal conviction.

Felony Classification in Texas

There are five classes of felony crimes in Texas, ranging from the most serious capital felony to the lowest state jail felony. The class, prison penalties, and maximum fines for each type of felony are detailed below:

Felony Class

Prison Penalties


Capital Felony

Life without parole or death penalty


First-Degree Felony

5 to 99 years in state prison

Up to $10,000

Second-Degree Felony

2 to 20 years in state prison

Up to $10,000

Third-Degree Felony

2 to 10 years in state prison

Up to $10,000

State Jail Felony

Up to 2 years in state jail

Up to $10,000

Examples of Felonies in Texas

Some examples of different felony classifications include:

Collateral Consequences of a Felony Conviction

The consequences of a felony conviction can follow someone long after he or she has served out their sentence. Collateral consequences of having a felony record can affect your job prospects, education options, and even housing. Restrictions for felons in Texas can prohibit:

  • Licensing for certain professions;
  • Government program eligibility;
  • Scholarship and educational funding;
  • Government benefits;
  • Gun ownership;
  • Voting rights;
  • Holding public office; and
  • Serving on a jury.

Plea Bargain to a Misdemeanor Instead of a Felony

In some cases, certain criminal activity could be punishable as a felony or a misdemeanor. The prosecutor may initially charge the defendant with a felony. Your criminal defense lawyer could negotiate pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge in exchange for dropping the felony charge. Negotiating a lower charge with reduced sentencing can be a benefit and help you avoid the potential of facing more serious jail time and a felony conviction.

Multiple Felonies and Increased Penalties in Texas

Under Texas Penal Code § 12.42, someone deemed a habitual offender can face increased sentencing for repeat felonies. This increases the penalties of a second or more felony offense to the next class of felony.

For example, someone on trial for a third-degree felony with a prior felony conviction (other than a state jail felony) will be punished for a felony of the second degree. A second-degree felony with a prior felony conviction will be punished for a first-degree felony.

A charge for a first-degree felony with a prior felony conviction (other than state jail felony), shall be punished for not less than 15 years, up to 99 years or life imprisonment.

Texas Felony Criminal Defense Lawyer

An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney understands the serious consequences involved in a felony charge. Your lawyer can build a defense that gives you the best shot at a favorable outcome, including avoiding a felony conviction and staying out of prison.

If you've been charged with a felony in Odessa, Texas, the Law Office of E. Jason Leach, PLLC is here to fight for you. E. Jason Leach is a Board Certified criminal defense attorney who has dedicated his law practice to defending the accused. To set up a free consultation, contact the Law Office of E. Jason Leach today at 432.552.7000.