Texas, as most other states, classifies divides criminal offenses into felonies and misdemeanors. Misdemeanors, less severe crimes, might result in a jail sentence or fine. Felonies, more severe crimes, may result in a prison term. The lower the number of the felony degree, the more serious the felony is. Separate categories.of felonies tell defendants, attorneys and judges alike an appropriate range of sentencing options when the criminal appears in court.
Capital felonies, such as capital murder, carry a sentence of life in prison or the death penalty. In 2010, Texas imposed the death penalty against 17 people out of the 46 nationwide, according to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and has led the nation in deaths by capital punishment since 1977.
First degree felony offenses are punishable by between five and 99 years or even life in prison. Offenders may also receive fines up to $10,000. Crimes can include aggravated robbery or kidnapping, murder, burglary of a residence with intent to commit additional felonies, aggravated sexual assault, theft of $200,000 or more and arson that results in injury or death.
Second degree felonies in Texas may carry a fine of up to $10,000 and result in a penalty of two to 20 years in prison. Crimes that fall under these parameters include robbery, sexual assault, manslaughter, theft or criminal damage of $100,000 or greater, indecency with a child through physical contact, burglary of a residence or aggravated assault.
Third degree felonies carry with them a prison sentence of two to 10 years along with a fine of up to $10,000. Qualifying crimes include a second conviction for stalking, kidnapping, assault when intoxicated, a third conviction for DWI and theft or criminal damage of greater than $20,000.
Texas offers a unique option that differs slightly from other states -- state jail. State jail, the penalty for fourth degree felonies, falls between state prison and local or county jails as to its severity. Offenders who commit a fourth degree felony may receive a penalty of between 180 days and two years in custody, along with a fine of up to $10,000. Types of crimes which fall under this classification include the third conviction for violation of an order of protection, criminally negligent homicide, check forgery or burglary of a building.