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Misdemeanor vs. Felony, Punishments

Wed, 08/19/2015

As you probably figured out from the last post, the differences between a felony and a misdemeanor are vague and often complicated. That is why we have chosen to split up the topic into two posts- the last one talked about the types (degrees and classes) of the offenses. Now, we’re going to talk about punishment differences.  

By punishment, I am referring very generally to what happens after you are convicted. When the judge or jury returns the guilty verdict, there is some sort of punishment that will come after. This punishment may be probation (often referred to as deferred adjudication), community service, a fine, time in county or state jail, or time in prison, or some combination. So let’s go through what the state of Texas has on the books as possible punishments for each.  

(And/or means that you could face one or both.) 

Misdemeanor 

Class C 

  • Up to $500 in fines 

Class B 

  • Up to a $2,000 fine and/or 

  • Up to 180 days in jail 

Class A 

  • Up to a $4,000 fine and/or 

  • Up to 1 year in county jail 

Felony 

State Jail 

  • Up to a $10,000 fine and/or 

  • Between 180 days and 2 years in a state jail 

3rd Degree 

  • Up to a $10,000 fine and/or 

  • 2-10 years in prison 

2nd Degree 

  • Up to a $10,000 fine and/or 

  • 2-20 years in prison 

 

1st Degree 

  • Up to a $10,000 fine and/or 

  • 5-99 years in prison 

Capital 

  • life in prison or 

  • state execution (also called the death penalty or capital punishment) 

 

So how does the court decide your punishment?  

There are several ways this can happen. Firstly, the prosecutor (attorney for the state) may offer you a Plea Agreement- this means that you admit guilt, and are often given a less harsh punishment for it. Your attorney may refer to this as a “plea deal” or that the State has “cut you a deal.” Sometimes, especially if it is your first offense, they may lessen the crime you have been charged of from a higher degree or class to a lower one. This can make your punishment less harsh. If you sign a plea agreement, you waive your right to appeal- this means that you cannot dispute the ruling since you have agreed to it. 

Sometimes, the prosecutor may not offer you a plea agreement, or you may not like what they offer. At this point, that’s when your case goes to trial. The 6th Amendment gives you the right to a trial by jury. A jury is a panel of people, who do not work for the court or the prosecutor, who decide whether you are innocent or guilty of the crime you have been charged with. If the jury returns a verdict (or decides) that you are guilty, the next step is determining punishment. You can choose before the trial whether you want the jury or the judge to decide punishment; you should seek the advice of your defense attorney for this, and all other questions of course.  

You can also waive, or decide not to use, your trial by jury. In this case, the judge will listen to the arguments made and then decide whether you are guilty or innocent. He or she will also then determine your punishment. 

Regardless of which way your punishment is decided, you have a right to watch it be determined or read to you. Once it is handed down, the punishment will begin not long after. If you did not use a plea agreement, this also begins the appeals process. The appeals process is the process by which you can dispute your conviction; not all convictions are appeal worthy, and you should ask your attorney whether your case can be appealed. 

Hopefully this post and the last one have made things a little clearer. These discussions are meant to educate you on how the crime classification system works. It is very easy to feel lost when you have been charged with a crime- there are many complicated terms and procedures. That is why you should hire an attorney or ask that the state provide you one. Attorneys are your biggest source of information and guidance in the process; after all, it’s our job! 

If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime, call The Cochran Firm-Dallas, P.L.L.C.. We can help!

 

What's My Charge? A Misdemeanor? A Felony?

Tue, 08/04/2015

You were just released from jail on bond. A couple nights (or even hours) ago, you were arrested. What happens next?

 

First of all, you need to call an attorney. The legalese of the process can be very complicated, and it’s our job to make it easier on you. You may even want to call an attorney after you’ve been arrestYou were just released from jail on bond. A couple nights (or even hours) ago, you were arrested. What happens next?

 First of all, you need to call an attorney. The legalese of the process can be very complicated, and it’s our job to make it easier on you. You may even want to call an attorney after you’ve been arrested- especially if your bond (or the money you have to pay to be released) is set higher than you, or anybody, could reasonably pay.

 

 Next, you need to figure out what you have been charged with. While you probably know the offense (what they arrested you for), it’s often trickier to know what kind of charge you’re facing- is it a misdemeanor or a felony?

 

 The reason this can be tricky is because some offenses, like possession and DWI, can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. For instance, your third DWI charge is considered a felony, but the first two are misdemeanors. Possession of marijuana is another example- under 4 ounces is a misdemeanor, over 4 and it’s a felony.

 

 

In some counties like Dallas, it’s very easy to know which one you’re charged with. Your case number, which is listed on your bond papers and often on the contract with your attorney, will have either an “F” or an “M” in front- F for felony and M for misdemeanor.

 If that number starts with an “M”, it’s often followed by either an “A”, “B”, or “C.” That second letter represents what is called the Misdemeanor Class. Class A is the most serious, and Class C is the least serious. Your first DWI charge is a Class B (MB), and your second is a Class A (MA). After that, it’s a felony. Going back to possession of marijuana- 2oz or less is a Class B offense, 2-4oz is a Class A. Anything over that is a felony.

You were just released from jail on bond. A couple nights (or even hours) ago, you were arrested. What happens next?

First of all, you need to call an attorney. The legalese of the process can be very complicated, and it’s our job to make it easier on you. You may even want to call an attorney after you’ve been arrested- especially if your bond (or the money you have to pay to be released) is set higher than you, or anybody, could reasonably pay.

 

Next, you need to figure out what you have been charged with. While you probably know the offense (what they arrested you for), it’s often trickier to know what kind of charge you’re facing- is it a misdemeanor or a felony?

 

The reason this can be tricky is because some offenses, like possession and DWI, can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. For instance, your third DWI charge is considered a felony, but the first two are misdemeanors. Possession of marijuana is another example- under 4 ounces is a misdemeanor, over 4 and it’s a felony.

 

In some counties like Dallas, it’s very easy to know which one you’re charged with. Your case number, which is listed on your bond papers and often on the contract with your attorney, will have either an “F” or an “M” in front- F for felony and M for misdemeanor.

 

If that number starts with an “M”, it’s often followed by either an “A”, “B”, or “C.” That second letter represents what is called the Misdemeanor Class. Class A is the most serious, and Class C is the least serious. Your first DWI charge is a Class B (MB), and your second is a Class A (MA). After that, it’s a felony. Going back to possession of marijuana- 2oz or less is a Class B offense, 2-4oz is a Class A. Anything over that is a felony.

 

Just like misdemeanors, there are different kinds of felonies. There are five types in Texas- State Jail, 3rd degree, 2nd degree, 1st degree, and Capital. State Jail is the least serious and Capital (usually reserved for very serious crimes like murder) is the most serious.

 

When we said a 3rd DWI offense was a felony, it is more specifically that 3rd degree type. Any DWI after that is also a 3rd degree felony. Back to the marijuana example- simple possession between 4oz and 5lbs is a State Jail offense, 5-50lbs is a 3rd degree, 50-2000 lbs is a 2nd degree, and over 2000lbs is a 1st degree felony. You can’t be charged with a capital felony for possession of marijuana (or a DWI).

 

So what do these types of felonies and misdemeanors mean? Check out the next post t see!

If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime, call The Cochran Firm-Dallas, P.L.L.C. We can help.

 

 Just like misdemeanors, there are different kinds of felonies. There are five types in Texas- State Jail, 3rd degree, 2nd degree, 1st degree, and Capital. State Jail is the least serious and Capital (usually reserved for very serious crimes like murder) is the most serious.

 

 When we said a 3rd DWI offense was a felony, it is more specifically that 3rd degree type. Any DWI after that is also a 3rd degree felony. Back to the marijuana example- simple possession between 4oz and 5lbs is a State Jail offense, 5-50lbs is a 3rd degree, 50-2000 lbs is a 2nd degree, and over 2000lbs is a 1st degree felony. You can’t be charged with a capital felony for possession of marijuana (or a DWI).

 

 So what do these types of felonies and misdemeanors mean? Check out the next post to see!

 

 If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime, call The Cochran Firm-Dallas, P.L.L.C. We can help.

 

ed- especially if your bond (or the money you have to pay to be released) is set higher than you, or anybody, could reasonably pay.

 

Next, you need to figure out what you have been charged with. While you probably know the offense (what they arrested you for), it’s often trickier to know what kind of charge you’re facing- is it a misdemeanor or a felony?

 

The reason this can be tricky is because some offenses, like possession and DWI, can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. For instance, your third DWI charge is considered a felony, but the first two are misdemeanors. Possession of marijuana is another example- under 4 ounces is a misdemeanor, over 4 and it’s a felony.

 

In some counties like Dallas, it’s very easy to know which one you’re charged with. Your case number, which is listed on your bond papers and often on the contract with your attorney, will have either an “F” or an “M” in front- F for felony and M for misdemeanor.

 

If that number starts with an “M”, it’s often followed by either an “A”, “B”, or “C.” That second letter represents what is called the Misdemeanor Class. Class A is the most serious, and Class C is the least serious. Your first DWI charge is a Class B (MB), and your second is a Class A (MA). After that, it’s a felony. Going back to possession of marijuana- 2oz or less is a Class B offense, 2-4oz is a Class A. Anything over that is a felony.

 

Just like misdemeanors, there are different kinds of felonies. There are five types in Texas- State Jail, 3rd degree, 2nd degree, 1st degree, and Capital. State Jail is the least serious and Capital (usually reserved for very serious crimes like murder) is the most serious.

 

When we said a 3rd DWI offense was a felony, it is more specifically that 3rd degree type. Any DWI after that is also a 3rd degree felony. Back to the marijuana example- simple possession between 4oz and 5lbs is a State Jail offense, 5-50lbs is a 3rd degree, 50-2000 lbs is a 2nd degree, and over 2000lbs is a 1st degree felony. You can’t be charged with a capital felony for possession of marijuana (or a DWI).

 

So what do these types of felonies and misdemeanors mean? Check out the next post t see!

 

If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime, call The Cochran Firm-Dallas, P.L.L.C. We can help.

Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Driver Killed in Salado Bridge Accident

Wed, 04/22/2015

Lawsuit Points to Increased Danger on Texas Highways

DALLAS (April 20, 2015) - Three Dallas area law firms, Baron & Budd, Godsey Martin P.C., and The Cochran Firm, have jointly filed a petition alleging negligence in the 191st Judicial District Court of Dallas County (cause number: DC-15-04449) on behalf of the mother and two children of 32-year-old Clark Brandon Davis, who was tragically killed during a bridge collapse in Salado, Texas on March 26, 2015.

According to state investigators, a flatbed tractor-trailer hauling a crane and contracted by Texas-based Lares Trucking crashed into the beam of an overpass under construction at I-35 and FM 2484. The crash allegedly caused the beam to fall and crush the pickup driven by Mr. Davis in the southbound lane of the freeway. The collapse also allegedly injured three others in addition to Mr. Davis.

Court documents in the lawsuit state numerous government agencies, including The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) and The Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS), are currently investigating the accident. Contributing factors that are being investigated include the height of the bridge under construction, the truck hauling the crane, its load height and the road conditions. It has already been determined by the TxDMV that the truck driver did not have proper permits for an oversized load.

Court documents also state the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) lists Lares Trucking as being authorized for intrastate transport only and reports that in the past two years, Lares has undergone five inspections. Two Lares vehicles were found out of service, but no citations were given to drivers.

The law firms involved are conducting their own independent investigation, which includes looking into the many possible contributing factors, including the construction of the bridge.

A joint statement from the firms’ attorneys stated “We are filing this claim in the hopes that justice will be served for the family of Mr. Davis. Two children lost their father and we intend to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.”

Baron & Budd, Godsey Martin and The Cochran Firm represent thousands of victims and their families each year in personal injury and complex catastrophic injury cases, and each has achieved national recognition for getting justice for people, who by no fault of their own, have suffered at the hands of the negligent.

View more on this story.

Read additional coverage from Temple Daily News here.

If you want to learn more about Cochran Firm Dallas and our many areas of practice, we encourage you to explore our website. This site contains information about our lawyers and how we can help you with your case.

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At the Cochran Firm Dallas, our attorneys have experience with:

Our attorneys have collective decades of experience helping the people of the Dallas area pursue justice and compensation. If you don’t see your specific case type on the list above, you should still call us for a free consultation.

If you live in the Dallas, Texas area and you need an experienced attorney to represent you, please contact the Cochran Firm Dallas  today for a free consultation

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