Felony in Texas: Classes & Penalties

A felony in Texas is a serious crime that can lead to imprisonment for over a year. Felonies are more severe than misdemeanors, which result in smaller punishments like fines or short stays in local jails. Citizens in a grand jury review felony cases to determine if there is sufficient probable cause to proceed with the case.

When trying to understand felonies in Texas, it’s important to know how they are grouped and the punishments they bring. Felonies are major crimes with big penalties, and Texas sorts them into classes based on how bad they are. These classes show how serious the crimes are and what kind of punishment they can bring.

Classes and Penalties of Felony in Texas

State Jail Felony (Texas Penal Code § 12.35)

The least severe felony category in Texas. The penalty involves confinement in a state jail facility for 180 days to 2 years and a fine of up to $10,000.


  • Stealing things worth $1,500 to $20,000
  • Stealing a gun
  • Wrongly using someone’s credit or debit cards
  • Having a small amount (less than one gram) of a strong drug listed as Schedule 1

Third-Degree Felony (Texas Penal Code § 12.34)

Convictions may lead to imprisonment for 2 to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.


  • Stealing things worth $30,000 to $150,000
  • Shooting from a vehicle, no one gets hurt
  • Having 5 to 50 pounds of marijuana
  • Having between 1 and 4 grams of a strong drug listed as Schedule 1
  • Aggravated assault of a public worker

Second-Degree Felony  (Texas Penal Code § 12.33)

Those convicted face imprisonment for 2 to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.


  • Stealing things valued from $150,000 to $300,000
  • Serious attack
  • Breaking into someone’s home
  • Harming a child carelessly
  • Causing severe harm to a family member
  • Having 4 to 200 grams of a strong drug listed as Schedule 1

First-Degree Felony (Texas Penal Code § 12.32)

Convictions for first-degree felonies can result in prison sentences ranging from 5 to 99 years or life and a fine of up to $10,000.


  • Stealing things worth $300,000 or more
  • Serious sexual assault
  • Robbery with a serious threat
  • Sexual assault involving a child
  • Having over 2,000 pounds of marijuana
  • Having between 200 to 400 grams of a strong drug listed as Schedule 1

Capital Felony (Texas Penal Code § 12.31)

Convictions for capital felonies represent the gravest criminal offenses, potentially resulting in the severest penalties, such as the death penalty or life prison sentences without the possibility of parole.


  • Capital murder
  • Killing with specific reasons (like on purpose, linked to another crime, using deadly weapons, of a cop, or a repeated act)
  • Spying for another country
  • Betraying one’s own nation
  • Causing death by taking over an aircraft
  • Committing mass murder

Enhanced Penalties with Multiple Felonies in Texas

In line with Texas Penal Code § 12.42, individuals labeled as habitual offenders can face heightened sentencing for recurring felonies.

This elevates the punishment for a second or subsequent felony offense to the succeeding felony class. For instance, if someone faces a trial for a third-degree felony and has a previous felony conviction (except for a state jail felony), the penalty will be that of a second-degree felony.

Similarly, a second-degree felony with a prior felony conviction will incur the punishment of a first-degree felony. Moreover, if someone is charged with a first-degree felony and holds a prior felony conviction (excluding a state jail felony), the punishment ranges from a minimum of 15 years to a maximum of 99 years in prison or life imprisonment.

Collateral  Consequences

The degree of felony charge can last long after the sentence is done. Having a criminal history of felony makes it difficult to get a job, pursue education, or find housing. In Texas, having a felony might stop you from:

  1. Obtaining licenses for specific occupations.
  2. Qualifying for government programs.
  3. Accessing scholarships and educational financial aid
  4. Receiving government benefits.
  5. Through the possession of firearms and weaponry.
  6. Participating in the exercise of voting rights.
  7. Pursuing public office positions
  8. Taking part in jury service.

While this guide gives a basic idea of how Texas law groups certain crimes and decides the right punishment, remember that the punishment mentioned in the rules might change because of other considerations in a specific case.

Judges look at different things when deciding a punishment, like:

  • If the person did this crime for the first time or did it before
  • If they were the main ones who did it or just helped
  • If they did the crime because they were really stressed or forced to
  • If someone got hurt, and if the way they did the crime wasn’t likely to hurt anyone
  • If they were really mean to the person they hurt, or if they caused a lot of damage
  • If they seem really sorry about what they did

Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!

A skilled criminal defense lawyer in Texas knows how important it is when you’re facing a serious felony offense in Texas. Your attorney can create a strong defense that increases your chances of a good result, like not getting a felony record and staying away from jail.

Being an experienced criminal defense attorney, we can look at what happened in your case. We’ll check the charges against you and make a smart plan to defend you. We will also engage in discussions with the opposing party and advocate for your rights and requirements when we are in the courtroom.