man holding jail barsThis is the next post in my series on dealing with felony charges in Laredo and other south Texas areas. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing. It also stressed the need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you or a family member have been arrested. It is important that you speak with counsel sooner, rather than later, so that your representative will have ample opportunity to build a defense on your behalf. In this article I will address the common question of whether one will go to jail, or otherwise face incarceration, when they are arrested for a first-time felony offense. If you require assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.

Texas defendants can face incarceration for first-time felony charges

Texas is like other states in that its felony charges are divided into several different categories. These include capital offenses (which can result in the death penalty), “degrees” of offenses which range from first to third degree charges, as well as state-jail felonies. All of these charges carry the potential for incarceration. Potential sentences can range from as low as 180 days to life in prison. Some Texas felony charges, however, can result in probation. If a defendant receives probation then the Judge will dictate a prison sentence but, in lieu of serving their required time, the defendant will be given a chance to continue their life in public under the supervision of a probation officer. If the defendant successfully completes their probation then the matter will be closed. If the defendant violates the terms of their supervision then the Court may require that they serve the sentence which was dictated at the time of probation.

The nature of the charges will determine whether or not a defendant is eligible for probation. Felony defendants will not be eligible for probation if any of the following conditions are met:

  • The judge dictates a sentence of ten years or greater
  • The defendant’s crime is listed in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 42A.054
  • If a deadly weapon was used during the commission of the crime

For obvious reasons, someone charged with a capital offense cannot receive probation. An important fact to remember, however, is that one will not receive probation simply because they are eligible for it. Whether or not to grant probation will be within the discretion of the court. When making such a decision, the Judge will consider factors such as the defendant’s criminal history, whether the offense involved physical harm to others, whether the defendant accepted responsibility for their actions, etc.

Laredo defendants face additional penalties for a first-time felony conviction

A first-time felony defendant will face severe consequences even if they receive probation and successfully complete it. These consequences can include fines and being prohibited from owning a firearm under state and federal law. Also, having a felony conviction will mean having a permanent criminal record. This will make it highly difficult to gain employment, to secure housing, to hold a professional license, and to perform any other task which requires a background check. The best way to protect your future interests is to retain an attorney who will provide you with the best possible defense.

If you or a family member have been charged with a felony then contact my office today to speak with a Laredo criminal defense lawyer. I believe that everyone is entitled to strong representation as well as respect. My office will give your case the attention it deserves. Contact us online or by telephone to schedule an initial consultation.