Frequently Asked Questions
Answers from a Williamson County Criminal Defense Attorney
What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
All of the crimes listed under the Texas Penal Code are divided into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies are the more-serious type of offense, whereas misdemeanors are a less-serious classification of crime. Both felonies and misdemeanors, however, are punishable with fines, imprisonment, possible probation and the ramifications of having a conviction on your criminal record.
What is the maximum penalty for a crime in Williamson County?
The sentence that you can receive if convicted of a crime depends on the severity of the offense. There are five different categories of felony, each with its own maximum sentence as follows:
- Capital felony — death or life in prison without possibility of parole
- First-degree felony — life in prison
- Second-degree felony — up to 20 years in prison
- Third-degree felony — up to 10 years in prison
- State jail felony — up to 2 years in prison
In addition to time in prison, a felony can be punished by a fine of up to $10,000. It should also be noted that each of the different levels of felonies carries a minimum sentence of imprisonment. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, the maximum sentences that you can receive are as follows:
- Class A misdemeanor — up to 1 year in jail and fines of up to $4,000
- Class B misdemeanor — up to 180 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000
- Class C misdemeanor — fines of up to $500
In many cases, the defendant will not be ordered to serve the full term of the maximum allowable sentence but will instead be placed on probation.
What is probation?
The word "probation" is derived from the Latin word for "test, or prove," and that is essentially what it means in the context of criminal law. When the judge places an individual on probation, that person has been given a chance to prove himself or herself by abiding by certain terms and avoiding a subsequent arrest.
Unfortunately, the terms of probation are often exceedingly strict, and they can be highly difficult for a probationer to abide by for an extended period of time. A probation violation can lead to an arrest and imposition of the full original sentence.
Will my case go to trial?
Whenever possible, we seek to resolve our clients' cases without going to trial. This may be done by negotiating with the prosecutor for a favorable plea bargain. In other cases, this goal may be achieved by uncovering holes in the case and faults in the evidence that make it possible to move to have the charges dismissed. If, however, your case cannot be resolved in advance, we will not hesitate to go to a full jury trial to fight to defend your rights and clear your name.
Should I speak with the investigators?
The only thing that you should ever say to a police officer or detective who wants to speak with you about an alleged crime is, "I do not wish to discuss the situation with you. Please call R. Scott Magee, Attorney at Law with any questions about my case."
You have a constitutional right to remain silent in the face of questioning about criminal allegations, and this right may be your most valuable protection against the possibility of conviction. Anything you say to law enforcement can be used as evidence against you.
No matter how friendly they may seem, you should not make the mistake of telling them your side of the story. Their job is to solve crimes and to have people convicted, and the reason they want to talk to you is to get you to help them prove their assumption of your guilt to be correct. Instead of talking to the police, consult your criminal defense lawyer.
Contact us for a free consultation so you can speak with the Williamson County criminal lawyer from our team.