Felony Charge Attorney in Texas, Stephen Bowling

When facing a felony charge in Texas, understanding your legal options and potential outcomes is crucial. The distinction between felonies and misdemeanors in the state’s legal system can significantly impact the sentence, penalties, and long-term consequences you face. This blog post aims to provide insight into whether a felony charge in Texas can be reduced to a misdemeanor, the steps involved, and other related questions, emphasizing the assistance of an experienced felony charge attorney in Texas. 

What Is a Felony in Texas?

In Texas, felonies are considered serious crimes that carry severe penalties, including imprisonment, fines, and other legal consequences. The Texas Penal Code Chapter 12 categorizes felonies into different degrees, each carrying varying levels of punishment based on the severity of the crime committed:

  • Capital Felony: ex. murder, terrorism resulting in death
  • First Degree Felony: ex. aggravated sexual assault, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, trafficking of large amounts of certain controlled substances
  • Second Degree Felony: ex. aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, manslaughter, burglary with intent to commit a felony
  • Third Degree Felony: ex. third DWI offense, indecent assault, felony stalking
  • State Jail Felony: ex. possession of a controlled substance in a small quantity (less than one gram), theft of property valued $2,500 – $30,000, forgery of a check or other financial instrument

For example, capital felonies, the most serious of all, can result in the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole, while state jail felonies, the least serious, may lead to shorter terms in state jail facilities. 

What Is the Most Common Felony Charge in Texas?

Drug offenses, particularly possession and distribution, stand as the most common felony charges in Texas. This prevalence is partly due to the state’s strict drug laws. Texas law enforcement prioritizes drug-related offenses, leading to a high rate of arrests and charges. The impact of these charges can be profound, affecting individuals’ personal and professional lives, and contributing to the state’s high incarceration rates.

Can a Felony Be Reduced to a Misdemeanor in Texas?

In Texas, certain felony charges may be reduced to misdemeanors under specific circumstances. This process involves:

  • Negotiating with the prosecution
  • Demonstrating mitigating factors; and/or 
  • Meeting conditions such as completing a pre-trial diversion program. 

Factors that will influence the possibility of a reduction in charge include: 

  • The nature of the crime
  • Your criminal history; and 
  • The strength of the evidence. 

The assistance of a skilled Texas felony charge attorney can play an important role in navigating this complex process, advocating for your best interests, and achieving a more favorable outcome.

Can Felony Charges Be Dropped?

In Texas, felony charges can indeed be dropped under certain conditions, such as:

  • Lack of evidence
  • Procedural errors; or 
  • Successful completion of specific programs like pre-trial intervention.

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure provides a framework for the dismissal of charges, emphasizing the importance of legal representation in these cases. An experienced felony charge attorney in Texas can negotiate with the prosecutor, challenge the evidence’s admissibility, or argue for the dismissal based on legal technicalities, thereby potentially avoiding the need for a trial.

How Can I Get Charges Dropped Before the Court Date?

To have felony charges dropped before a court date in Texas, several strategies can be employed, each depending on the specifics of the case and the evidence at hand. These include:

  1. Demonstrating weaknesses in the prosecution’s case: This can mean demonstrating insufficient evidence, procedural errors, or violations of your rights during your arrest or when evidence was gathered. 
  2. Negotiating with the prosecutor: This is often facilitated by your defense attorney, and can lead to the charges being dropped, especially if there is a possibility of proving your innocence or mitigating circumstances. 

Engaging in a pre-trial diversion program or reaching a plea agreement are other paths that may result in the charges being dismissed before reaching court.

Can My Record Be Sealed?

In Texas, certain criminal records can be sealed from public view through a process called non-disclosure. This process does not erase the record but limits its accessibility, making it invisible to most private entities and for employment background checks. 

Whether you are eligible to have your record sealed depends upon a number of different factors, including:

  • The nature of the offense
  • Whether you have fulfilled all of the sentencing requirements; and 
  • Whether the required waiting period (which varies by the type of offense) has expired. 

Sealing a record can significantly improve your ability to secure employment, housing, and other opportunities, highlighting the importance of the right legal guidance in navigating this process.

Is Jail Time Mandatory for a Felony in Texas?

Jail time is often a part of the sentencing for a felony conviction in Texas, with the mandatory minimum sentences varying by the degree of the felony. However, not all felonies automatically result in jail time. Factors such as 

  • Your criminal history
  • The circumstances surrounding the crime; and
  • Mitigating factors, such as cooperation with law enforcement

Alternatives to incarceration, like probation or community service, may be available, especially for lower-degree felonies or first-time offenders. Effective legal representation can significantly impact the outcome, advocating for lesser sentences or alternative penalties.

What about a Reduction in Sentence?

In Texas, a sentence reduction for a felony charge may be possible through various legal mechanisms, such as:

  • Plea bargaining
  • Demonstrating good behavior if already incarcerated; or 
  • Participating in rehabilitation programs. 

The success of these efforts often depends on the specifics of the case, including the nature of the offense and your criminal history. A knowledgeable Texas felony charge attorney can argue on your behalf for a reduction in sentencing based on mitigating factors or through negotiation with the prosecution.

What Is the Minimum Sentencing for a Felony?

The minimum sentencing for a felony in Texas varies significantly depending on the severity of the offense. For example, state jail felonies can carry a minimum sentence of 180 days in a state jail, whereas first-degree felonies can have a minimum of 5 years in prison. These minimum sentences reflect the state’s approach to different types of crimes, emphasizing the importance of understanding the specific charges you are facing.

How Do I Determine the Right Approach for My Case?

Determining the right approach to defending a felony case in Texas involves several crucial steps and considerations:

  1. Understand the Charges and Penalties: Including the potential penalties if convicted. 
  2. Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney: A skilled Texas felony charge attorney can help navigate the legal system, advise you on the best course of action, and work to secure the best possible outcome for your case.
  3. Review the Evidence: This includes police reports, witness statements, forensic evidence, and any other relevant information.
  4. Consider All Defense Strategies: These could include challenging the legality of a search and seizure, disputing the facts presented by the prosecution, presenting an alibi, or arguing for mitigating circumstances that might reduce the severity of the charges.
  5. Evaluate Plea Bargains: Your attorney can advise you on whether a plea deal is in your best interest, potentially leading to reduced charges or a lighter sentence.
  6. Prepare for Trial: This includes working with your attorney to gather evidence for your defense, identifying and prepping witnesses, and developing a clear and compelling narrative to present to the jury.
  7. Understand Your Rights: Throughout the legal process, it is crucial to understand your rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to a fair trial.
  8. Consider the Impact of Prior Convictions: If you have any prior convictions, they can impact the strategy for your defense and potentially affect the sentence you face.

Remember, every felony case is unique, and the best defense strategy depends on the specific circumstances of your case. An experienced felony charge attorney in Texas will be able to provide insight into the most viable options in your case. 

Austin Office
816 Congress Ave, Suite 950
Austin, Texas 78701

San Antonio Office
700 N St Mary’s St, Suite 1457
San Antonio, Texas 78205