handcuffed in jailThis is the next post in my series on the handling of felony offenses in Austin, Texas. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing. It also discussed the need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you or a loved one have been arrested. It is important to speak with counsel sooner, as opposed to later, due to the fact that felony charges involve potential prison sentences. In this article I will be addressing the common question of whether one will go to jail (typically prison) or receive probation for a first-offense felony charge. If you require assistance then contact my office today to speak with a criminal defense lawyer.

Some Texas felony charges may result in probation

Texas divides its felonies into several different classes. These classes include a State Jail Felony on the low end. Charges then escalate to a third-degree felony and then a second-degree felony. A first-degree felony is the most serious charge which a defendant can face other than a capital offense. Any defendant who is charged with one of these offenses faces the possibility of incarceration; none of these charges carry a potential sentence which fails to include the potential for jail or prison time. Furthermore, depending on the nature of the case, a defendant may face multiple counts. This could mean that they will be charged with multiple felonies at the same time.

Whether a defendant is eligible to receive probation will depend on the specific nature of the charges. A defendant can generally be sentenced to probation except for in the following circumstances:

  • If the defendant receives a sentence of ten years or more
  • If the defendant committed a crime listed in Code of Criminal Procedure 42A.054
  • If the defendant used a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony offense

The fact that probation cannot be issued for matters where the sentence is greater than ten years means, automatically, that a capital defendant cannot receive community supervision. In cases which involve acts of violence, or the risk of harm to others, the prosecutors will typically be more likely to seek a term of incarceration. Furthermore, Courts tend to have far less patience with defendants who engage in acts of violence.

Austin defendants may not receive probation simply because they are eligible for it

Defendants must remember that just because they are eligible for probation it does not mean that they will be granted it. Placing a defendant on probation is within the discretion of the judge (or the jury in some instances). When making a sentencing decision, the Court will consider factors such as the nature of the charges, the defendant’s criminal history, etc. Presenting the best possible argument to the Court at the time is vital to potentially achieving probation.

If you need assistance with a felony matter then contact my office today to speak with an Austin criminal defense attorney. I am Board Certified in Criminal Defense by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and I practice no other area of law. We are proud of the representation we provide to our clients and we look forward to being of assistance. My office also serves the cities of Rollingwood, Round Rock, Elgin, Jonestown, Manor, Bee Cave, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley, Lakeway, Creedmoor, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, and San Marcos, Texas.