person holding jail barsThis is the next post in my series on the handling of second-degree felonies in Austin and other 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 as soon as possible so that your representative may begin building a defense on your behalf. In this article I will discuss the potential punishments associated with a second-degree charge. If you or a family member have been arrested then contact my office today to speak with a criminal defense lawyer.

Texas punishes repeat offenders with a potential sentence of five to ninety-nine years in prison

A first-time offender who is charged with a second-degree felony will typically face a sentence of two to twenty years in prison. Under Texas Penal Code Section 12.42(b), however, the charge will be elevated to a first-degree felony if the accused individual has previously been convicted for first, second, or third-degree felony. This means that a defendant may face a potential sentence of five to ninety-nine years in prison. Additionally, one will often face additional charges as the prosecution will often charge multiple counts out of one course of conduct. The number of charges which the prosecutors will bring in any given case will always depend on the specifics of the situation.

The foregoing is best explained by way of example. Suppose that Joe was convicted of arson at the age of eighteen when he set fire to school property as part of a prank that spiraled out of control. Now, ten years later, Joe threatens to harm a store clerk when the clerk tries to stop him from shoplifting. Threatening the clerk constitutes robbery under Texas Penal Code Section 29.02(a)(2). Due to Joe’s prior conviction, the robbery charge can be elevated from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony. Furthermore, Joe will likely face charges for burglary as he entered the store with the intention to steal property. While this example is intentionally over-simplified, it shows how numerous charges can stem from one course of conduct. It also shows how charges can be elevated based on a prior conviction.

Texas will elevate second-degree felonies to a first-degree charges if they involve a hate crime

A second-degree felony can be elevated to a first-degree offense if they involve a hate crime. In other words, a defendant faces stiffer penalties if they commit a crime against a victim due to biases based on any of the following:

  • Race or ethnicity
  • Gender or sexual orientation
  • Religious affiliation
  • Age

Hate crimes are aggressively pursued by prosecutors. If such was the motivation for an offense then it typically is a given that prosecutors will file an elevated charge.

If you have been charged with a second-degree felony 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 have been practicing law since 1995. I am proud of the level of service which my office provides and we believe that everyone is entitled to effective representation. We look forward to speaking with you. We also serve 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.