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The Degrees of Crime: Felonies, Misdemeanors, Infractions

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

The Degrees of Crime: Felonies, Misdemeanors, Infractions

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Felonies, Misdemeanors and Infractions in Texas

In the state of Texas, criminal offenses are divided into multiple categories. These categories are determined based on the relative severity of the offenses. Each one of these categories has a unique range of punishments that are calibrated to meet the severity of each offense.

Additionally, each crime category has an associated potential of leniency based on the nature of the offense. For example, a person who is convicted of a first-time misdemeanor may be more likely to receive a sentence of probation than a person who receive a first-time felony conviction. Knowing more about these different penalty categories can help people gain a better understanding of the charges they may be facing.

What Are Infractions?

In Texas, infractions are considered the least severe types of criminal offenses. Infractions are typically offenses that are not considered serious enough to deserve arrest but are still serious enough to deserve law enforcement action. Some examples of common infractions include:

  • Minor traffic violations
  • Jaywalking
  • Public nuisance

When a person commits an infraction, law enforcement may get involved but they usually will not make an arrest. In most cases, a law enforcement officer may approach a person and inform them of their actions while writing a ticket. The punishments for an infraction can include:

  • A fine
  • Community service
  • Possible mandatory education classes

In some cases, a person who is convicted of a infraction may be granted the ability to have their record sealed or cleared if they can successfully complete the terms of their penalty.

What Is A Misdemeanor?

The next category of criminal offenses in Texas includes misdemeanor offenses. These criminal actions are usually considered serious enough to allow for an arrest but are not serious enough for lengthy jail time. Typical examples of these kinds of crimes can include:

A person who commits a misdemeanor may be arrested and booked into jail. However, the bail amount for most misdemeanors is relatively low and many people are able to make bail after a misdemeanor arrest. Typical punishments for a misdemeanor conviction can include:

  • Less than a year in jail
  • Probation
  • Fines

Misdemeanor crimes can be divided into categories based on their severity. A Class C misdemeanor may be punished with a $500 fine, while a Class A misdemeanor can be punished by up to a year in jail.

What Is A Felony?

Felonies are considered the most serious criminal offenses in the Texas justice system. These crimes can cover everything for aggravated assault to capital murder. Felony offenses almost always lead to arrest and incarceration. Some common felony offenses can include:

Felony offenses be penalized with severe sentences. This can include years of prison, steep fines and felony parole. A person who is convicted of a felony can be denied the right to vote, obtain certain careers or live in certain areas. Additionally, felony crimes are the only class of criminal offenses that can be punished with a lifetime prison sentence or the death penalty.

In some cases, misdemeanor offenses can be upgraded to felony status based on the seriousness of the offense or the criminal history of the defendant.

A person who has been charged with any level of offense can consult with a defense attorney to discuss possible defense options. A successful legal defense can potentially reduce the penalty category of a criminal sentence. This could result in reduced jail time or the avoidance of incarceration. In some cases, the right kind of legal defense could lead to criminal charges being dropped altogether.


Have you recently been charged with a crime? You owe it to yourself to obtain a strong legal defense. Greg Tsioros is a Houston attorney who can fight for your rights. Contact his office today at (832) 752-5972.

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