When you or a loved one has been arrested, it can fill you full of fear and uncertainty about the future. The goal of The Jackson Firm is to provide clarity and peace of mind when it comes to criminal defense law in Texas. Whether you live in the area or you were just passing through, we have a Cedar Park Criminal Defense Attorney who will stand by you until your case is resolved.
The Texas justice system takes crime seriously. The state has some of the stiffest penalties, ranging from steep fines to the death penalty. An experienced defense lawyer who knows the local court system will use their legal knowledge to minimize the impact of an arrest on your current life and more importantly your future. If you’ve been charged with a crime in Williamson County, your first call should be to a Cedar Park Criminal Defense Attorney.
Most felonies and misdemeanors are decided depending on the state, so what a minor offense is elsewhere could bring serious consequences in Texas. The difference between a felony and a misdemeanor relates to the degree of seriousness and maximum punishment. For example, a minor offense like public intoxication is a criminal offense, but you’ll likely just receive a fine. However, if you get drunk, drive, and kill someone you’re guilty of a felony. The most serious punishment for a felony is the death penalty, which is defined under Texas capital punishment laws.
Misdemeanors in Texas are punishable by a jail term of less than one year and fines not exceeding $4,000. Felony convictions other than capital crimes will result in more than one year of imprisonment and fines up to $10,000. There are first, second, and third degree felonies and misdemeanors, and also different classes. Our experienced Cedar Park Criminal Defense Attorney will walk you through the specifics of your case and any possible consequences.
Criminal law statutes can be divided into three categories, although some crimes can overlap. Generally, there are crimes against property, crimes against people, and financial crimes. An experienced attorney can provide you with details according to your circumstances, but here’s an overview of specific types of crimes in Texas.
Theft, or larceny, is defined under Texas law by Chapter 31 of the penal code. Larceny is taking something of value without the permission of the lawful owner, and with no intention of returning it. That includes money, merchandise from a store, jewelry, services like public utilities, and property. It also includes stealing credit cards and writing bad checks. Stealing something worth $30 is a Class C misdemeanor, but stealing more than $300,000 is a first-degree felony.
Violent crime in Texas, as defined under penal code Chapter 22, ranges from threatening someone with physical harm (assault) to actually harming someone. An assault doesn’t have to result in an injury. Chapter 22.01 defines assault as any threat of violence or imminent bodily harm, and it’s a Class C misdemeanor. However, if the person that gets threatened is elderly, an on-duty law enforcement officer, or an emergency worker during the course of their duties, it becomes a Class A misdemeanor.
Aggravated assault is an assault that causes injury, and it’s a third-degree felony. If that injury leads to permanent impairment or disfigurement, it becomes a second-degree felony. Use a deadly weapon, and that aggravated assault becomes a first-degree felony. Murder in any degree can become a capital crime punishable by death, unless the perpetrator was charged as a minor; that will result in a mandatory life sentence.
Other violent crimes include unlawful restraint, deadly conduct, making terroristic threats, and robbery; if force, injuries, or threats are involved.
Crimes of a sexual nature cover a lot of territory, and the charges and punishment are largely determined by the intent, the age of the victim, and other circumstances surrounding the incident. For example, indecent exposure is defined under Texas law as exposing the anus or genitals to another with the intent of causing sexual arousal, but the location, age of the victim, and degree of distress caused to the victim can mean the difference between a Class B felony and a more serious charge.
Rape or sexual assault are also separated by lack of consent in an adult or whether the victim was under the age of 17, younger than 14, or under the age of six. Lack of consent is also considered if there is a power dynamic involved, such as with a teacher/student, caretaker/patient, or clergyman/parishioner situation. Further degrees of seriousness are added if a weapon was used, if the assault resulted in bodily injury, and if alcohol or a debilitating drug like Rohypnol was involved with the intent of incapacitating the victim. Any of those situations would result in a charge of aggravated sexual assault and a second-degree felony or higher.
Prostitution is covered under sex crimes statutes, and it relates to an offer or acceptance of sex acts in exchange for a fee as well as actually committing those acts. This includes making those offers on behalf of another in exchange for money or other payment. Prostitution charges range from Class B misdemeanors to first-degree felonies, depending on the severity and number of charges or a previous history of similar charges.
As some of the most serious crimes in Texas, drug offenses of any kind will get you in some serious trouble. What determines your charge and punishment are the kinds of drug, the amount, and your criminal history; whether someone died as a result of your drug activity is considered in charging and sentencing also. Charges can range from possession of drug paraphernalia to manufacturing and distribution.
Drugs are classified from Penalty Group I – Penalty Group IV. Penalty Group I includes marijuana, cocaine, prescription narcotics, and amphetamines. Penalty Groups II and III contain mostly hallucinogenic drugs and sedatives, and Penalty Group IV covers compounds or mixtures of two or more narcotic drugs. Punishment ranges from a Class B felony with a fine of $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail to a Life Felony with a fine of $250,000 and up to 99 years in prison.
Texas is a ‘stand your ground’ state with very lenient laws regarding guns. However, illegal possession or using a weapon to commit a crime might result in charges ranging from a Class A misdemeanor to first-degree felony, Under Texas law, weapons are defined as firearms, clubs, knives, armor-piercing ammunition, chemical dispensing devices, brass knuckles, or explosives.
Criminal offenses like assault, intimidation, sexual assault, and rape are classified differently if they are committed within the confines of a domestic relationship. They also carry more severe punishments than those same crimes committed against non-family members. Criminal procedure is different under domestic abuse laws. For example, a victim of domestic abuse is not allowed to drop the charges against an abuser. Domestic abuse law is defined under Chapter 71 of the Texas Penal Code, and covers violence by or against legal spouses, children, parents, siblings, ex-spouses, and foster parents or children. For partners involved in a dating relationship who don’t live together, the court will take into consideration the nature and length of the relationship, including witness testimony.
Charges and punishments for crimes committed by minors are outlined in the Juvenile Justice Code under Title Three of the Family Code. Whether a crime is handled in juvenile or adult court depends on the age of the offender and the seriousness of the crime. A minor can be charged in juvenile court if they committed a crime on or after their 10th birthday but before their 17th birthday. No juvenile offender can be sentenced to death under Texas law.
Texas is known for a lot of things, and being tough on lawbreakers is one of them. If you’ve been charged with a crime in Cedar Park or the surrounding community, it’s a good idea to contact The Jackson Firm. We’re a local’s choice for personalized, results-focused criminal defense law. We will discuss your individual case’s facts and look to create a legal plan of action that is in your best interests. Contact our Cedar Park Office and protect your rights today.