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Sexual assault, driving while intoxicated (DWI), theft, drug possession and sales, domestic violence, and juvenile delinquency are just some of the serious charges criminal law attorney Elaine Michael has successfully answered on behalf of Texans living in the Houston-Galveston-Angleton region. Elaine S. Michael Attorney at Law works closely with defendants to ensure that they understand potential case outcomes and do not compromise their rights and options as they interact with the judicial system. We also petition the courts to purge non-convictions and other eligible events from residents’ criminal records.
Felonies and the three-strikes rule
Felonies are crimes that can be punished by a prison sentence and include, but are not limited to, homicide, aggravated assault, rape, kidnapping, theft and arson. They are generally categorized by severity:
Capital felonies — Capital felonies are primarily murder-related, but not necessarily. A second conviction for the aggravated sexual assault of someone under 14 may also incur capital punishment. Capital felonies carry a sentence of life in prison or the death penalty, which is administered by lethal injection. Texas has led the United States in deaths by capital punishment since 1977.
First degree — First-degree crimes include robbery, kidnapping, murder, aggravated sexual assault, theft of $200,000 or more, and arson resulting in injury or death. Sentences range from five years to life in prison, with fines of up to $10,000.
Second degree — Second-degree felonies include robbery, sexual assault, manslaughter, theft or criminal damage of $100,000 or greater, indecency with a child through physical contact, burglary of a residence, and aggravated assault, and may bring two to 20 years in prison, with fines of up to $10,000.
Third degree — Third-degree felonies include kidnapping, assault when intoxicated, theft or criminal damage of greater than $20,000, a second conviction for stalking, and a third conviction for DWI. Sentences range from two to 10 years, with fines of up to $10,000.
State jail felonies — These include the third conviction for violation of an order of protection, criminally negligent homicide, DWI with a child passenger, interference with child custody, evading arrest, check forgery, and burglary of a building. Prison time ranges from 180 days to two years. Because all time must be served in a state jail, with no time off for good behavior, some defendants prefer to be tried for a third-degree felony. However, when charged with a fourth-degree felony, there is the possibility of instead receiving community supervision or punishment as a class A misdemeanor.
Texas was the first state to enact a three-strikes law when it introduced the Texas Habitual Felony Offender Statute in 1974. Essentially, it gives a mandatory life sentence to anyone convicted of a third felony, whether the crime is violent or not. In fact, felonies need not involve physical harm or loss of property. For instance, making a false statement of child abuse or neglect and violating a child protective order are both felonies.
Misdemeanors are usually punished by less than a year’s jail time. They range from class A to class D:
Class A misdemeanors — These include assault with bodily injury, burglary of a vehicle, animal cruelty, a second DWI offense, possession of 2 to 4 ounces of marijuana, resisting arrest, unlawfully carrying a weapon, and violating a protective order. Sentencing may be up to two years in the county jail and a fine not to exceed $4,000; alternatively, sentencing includes two of community supervision.
Class B misdemeanors — These charges include a DWI, criminal trespass, false report to a police officer, harassment, indecent exposure, possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana, prostitution, silent calls to 911, and terroristic threats. Sentences of up to 180 days in the county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000, or two years of community supervision are possible.
Class C misdemeanors — Class C misdemeanors include assault by threat, disorderly conduct, leaving a child in a vehicle, minor in possession of alcohol, possession of an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle, and public intoxication. They are punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.
Expunctions and nondisclosure orders
Our criminal defense law firm can help you determine what events on your criminal record may be eligible for expunction and apply to have those events delisted. We also work with grandparents, parents, spouses and siblings seeking expunction of criminal record entries ascribed to a deceased loved one.
Generally, felony arrests may be expunged from your record if you are acquitted at trial, or if your arrest derives from an indictment that does not lead to a trial. Felony convictions may be expunged if they were later pardoned. You may have alternatives to expunction. For instance, a non-disclosure order may be allowable, prohibiting the release of your criminal record to the general public. Minors may be given the option to have their juvenile records sealed.
DWI convictions cannot be expunged, so be sure to retain experienced representation
Felonies and misdemeanors can represent a real threat to your livelihood and freedom. As an example, DWIs draw increasingly stiff penalties with each repeated offense. A single DWI conviction could seriously compromise your ability to find a job and jeopardize your right to bear arms. Additionally, the Texas legislature has implemented a surcharge on your driver's license for a period of time after a conviction; for a first-time offender the surcharge is currently $1,000 per year for three years. A third DWI escalates the offense from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. It pays to hire an experienced DWI attorney.
We work with men and women charged with misdemeanors and felonies, including those charged with or suffering from domestic violence and abuse. Whether our mission is to prove your innocence or negotiate lesser charges, shorter sentences and lower fines, we treat you with respect and handle your case carefully, always cognizant that your freedom and perhaps your life are on the line. To learn more about how we can help you, call Elaine S. Michael Attorney at Law at 281-993-0700 or contact us online.
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