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How the State of Texas Classifies Crimes

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.

Crimes can be grouped by subject matter, but what matters more to defendants is how the state of Texas categorizes crimes in terms of severity. After all, the sentence for a misdemeanor drug offense is very different from a state felony. Let’s learn more about how the state of Texas classifies crimes.



Misdemeanors are minor offenses, relatively speaking. In the state of Texas, a misdemeanor cannot result in more than 12 months of jail time. Texas has three classes of misdemeanors: Class A, Class B, and Class C.
Class A misdemeanors are the most severe. This category includes theft of less than 1500 dollars or stalking without bodily injury. They’re tried in constitutional county courts like the Tarrant County courts. The maximum punishment is a 4K fine and year in prison.
Class B misdemeanors have a maximum penalty of 180 days in prison and 2K fine. This includes DUI, theft of more than twenty dollars but less than five hundred dollars, and possessing up to four ounces of cannabis.
Class C misdemeanors come with a maximum fine of 500 dollars but no jail time. These cases are handled by Justice of the Peace courts. This category includes the crime of attending a dog fight, stealing property valued at less than twenty dollars, and assault without bodily injury.

State Felonies

State felonies are the level above misdemeanors, though they’re the lowest level of felony in the state of Texas. They result in a felony on your record, though you may serve anywhere from six months to twenty four months in prison. These crimes include credit card abuse, theft of 1500 to 20,000 dollars, and mid-level drug offenses. These cases are heard in district court. And if you are found guilty, you go to a state-run prison. For comparison, people generally serve time for a misdemeanor in a local prison, often one in your county.

Third Degree Felonies

A third degree felony can result in 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 10K. Third degree felonies include drive-by shootings that don’t result in injury, indecent exposure to a child, tampering with evidence, theft of 20-100K and many drug offenses.

Second Degree Felonies

Second degree felonies can result in two to twenty years in prison and up to a 10K fine. This crime includes theft of more than 100K, aggravated assault, manslaughter, arson and reckless injury of a child.

First Degree Felonies

First degree felonies are the most severe ones short of capital offenses. This includes aggravated sexual assault, attempted murder, arson causing death and theft of more than 200K. These can result in a jail sentence of 5 years to life. And you could be hit with a fine of up to 10K.

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Capital Offenses

Capital offenses are the only crimes for which you could be sentenced to death. That doesn’t mean you’re going to end up on death row in Huntsville. It only means that these are the only crimes where you could be sentenced to lethal injection. You could be sentenced to life in prison without parole for a capital offense. Furthermore, you could be sentenced to life in prison for offenses that are not considered capital offenses. The only capital offenses in Texas are capital murder and capital felony murder.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Tamara Wilhite

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