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Felonies - State & Federal Crimes

Felonies crimes are typically the most serious crimes in any system of criminal law. A standard definition of a felony is any crime punishable by more than one year in prison or by death. This means that any crime that has a sentence of only a fine or confinement in the local jail is not a felony. Felonies range from State Jail, Third Degree, Second Degree, First Degree and Capital. The Sheena Law Firm handles felony cases in both state and federal district courts throughout Texas. Danny Sheena will bring his experience to bear for you.

Often the offense itself is not labeled as a felony, but the punishment tells the public that the offense is a felony. On the other hand, state codes may label a crime a "gross" or "aggravated" misdemeanor but provide for a sentence of more than one year in the state penitentiary system, thereby ensuring that the so-called misdemeanor is treated as felony in many respects.

Felony crimes:

  • Aggravated assault

  • Aggravated kidnapping

  • Aggravated robbery

  • Bribery

  • Burglary

  • Child crimes

  • Computer crime

  • Crimes causing harm to property

  • Criminally negligent homicide

  • Deadly conduct

  • DrugTrafficking

  • Embezzlement

  • False statements

  • Federal drug crimes and gun laws

  • Felony DUI

  • Felony DWI

  • Felony theft

  • Fraud

  • Grand theft

  • Homicide

  • Indecency with a child

  • Intoxication assault

  • Intoxication manslaughter

  • Kidnapping

  • Mail fraud

  • Manslaughter

  • Murder

  • Obstruction of justice

  • Perjury

  • Racketeering

  • Rape

  • Robbery

  • Sexual assault

  • Tax crimes

  • Unauthorized use of a motor vehicle

  • White collar crimes 

If a crime is a felony, additional criminal procedures apply. The right to a court-appointed attorney in cases where the defendant is too poor to afford to hire a lawyer is usually triggered if the charge is a felony, but not for less-serious crimes. Likewise, whether or not a criminal defendant must be present in court for various parts of the process may depend on whether he or she is charged with a felony.

In some jurisdictions, felonies can only be charged upon a grand jury indictment, while lesser crimes can be charged by a written information. Criminal defendants and witnesses can have their testimony disregarded in some jurisdictions by showing a prior conviction for a felony but not for a lesser crime. Finally, many jurisdictions base their "three strikes" laws on felonies but not misdemeanors. If the offender has been twice convicted of a felony, one more felony conviction will subject him to life in prison.

In addition to differences in procedural criminal law, the substantive law can be affected if a crime is designated a felony. Some statutes make an accidental death a murder if it occurs in the commission of a felony, but if it occurs in the commission of a lesser crime, it is only manslaughter. Burglary is defined at common law as breaking and entering a house for the purpose of committing a felony; if the purpose was not to commit a felony the crime cannot be charged as burglary. The crime of conspiracy may carry a harsher penalty if the offense is conspiracy to commit a felony rather than conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor. Justifiable homicide is sometimes described as a killing to prevent the commission of a felony, although more commonly it is limited to prevention of certain of the most serious felonies.

A person convicted of a felony may have more restrictions on their rights than a person convicted of a lesser crime. In many jurisdictions, felons cannot serve on juries. Often times they lose their right to vote or to practice certain professions, such as lawyer or teacher. Felons may be prohibited from owning guns or serving in the military. Some states have a "three strikes, you're out" statute which provides that a person who already has been convicted of two felonies may be sentenced to life in prison if he or she is convicted of a third felony.

Crime victims have rights in the Texas criminal justice system. Under the Texas Crime Victims' Rights law, victims of sexual assault, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, or any other crime causing bodily injury, or the close relatives of someone killed by a criminal act, have rights.

Crime Victims Rights:

  • Information about services, including compensation
  • Access to counseling, assistance, and other victim services
  • Privacy and, to the extent possible, confidentiality of identity
  • Basic information about the case, such as the case number and assigned court
  • Consideration by the judge of a Victim Impact Statement, in which the victim describes the impact of the crime on the victim and his or her family
  • Notification about scheduled court hearings and plea agreements, and to be present at public court proceedings
  • Notification about the escape from imprisonment of the person convicted of the crime
  • Victims of sexual assault also have the right to payment for medical examinations

When your in need of legal counsel, we are here to help protect your rights. If you are in Texas and have been charged with a felony, give us a call today to discuss your case.

Danny M. Sheena, P.E.

The Sheena Law Firm
2500 West Loop South, Suite 518
Houston, Texas 77027
(713) 224-6508 - Office
(713) 225-1560 - Fax

Email: [email protected]


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