By: Mark Diaz
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Ways A Felony Conviction Can Affect Your Life
A felony conviction in Texas is a grave matter; the consequences can follow you for life. Learn in this article how a felony conviction can negatively affect your life and how important it is to avoid this problem. If you have questions, our League City criminal defense lawyer at Mark Diaz & Associates can help.
Jail Or Prison Time For A Texas Felony Conviction
Being convicted of a felony in Texas may result in you serving at least a year in prison. Prison is a different world than jail. Generally in jail, people are either awaiting trial or are serving sentences on misdemeanors or possibly low-level felony offenses. Prison is a longer-term facility with higher security because many inmates have been convicted of more serious crimes. Texas has several types of felony crimes with the following punishments:
- A third-degree felony can be punished by two to 10 years in state prison.
- A second-degree felony can be punished by two to 20 years in state prison.
- If you are convicted of a first-degree felony, you can receive five to 99 years or life, depending on the charges.
- If you are convicted of a capital felony, you will either serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole, or if the prosecutor seeks the death penalty, you could be sentenced to death.
Additionally, you face serious financial consequences for a felony conviction in Texas. The costs can add up rapidly:
- Fines: For a felony conviction, the fine can be up to $10,000.
- Court costs: Some expenses are unrelated to punishment, but you are still responsible for paying them. These costs may include fees for being put on community supervision, jury fees, costs for officers serving arrest warrants, and fees for special programs.
- Further, if the victim suffered financial losses because of your criminal actions, you will probably have to pay restitution. Restitution compensates the victim for their losses and is separate from fines and court costs. Interest may accrue on unpaid amounts.
What Are The Consequences Of A Texas Felony Conviction?
As noted earlier, a Texas felony conviction can lead to jail time and/or probation and fines. But there are collateral consequences that could damage your life for years to come:
Even if you are acquitted of a felony, being charged in Texas can reduce your ability to find and keep a job. It also can reduce your earnings by limiting your career options. In many cases, Texas employers can check your criminal history with a background check and may not hire you based on the results. They also may ask you in the application process if you have a criminal record or have been charged with a crime.
Depending on the offense, having a criminal record can lead to losing your driver’s license. If the conviction involved alcohol or drugs, you could lose your license for at least six months.
If you are not an American citizen, a felony conviction may prevent you from getting a green card. It also can alter your immigration status and reduce your ability to become a US citizen. It is also possible to be deported in these situations.
If you have a felony conviction, it could damage your rights regarding child custody, especially if it involves domestic violence.
In Texas, you may not be allowed to adopt children if you are convicted of a crime, or in the least, you may have to wait out a period of time before being considered as an adoptive parent and once the period expires, undergo a full risk evaluation. Whether you are barred or would be subject to a waiting period and risk evaluation depends on the crime you were convicted of and the time that has passed since the conviction.
A mere criminal charge can handicap your ability to attend college. Every university has different policies, so you must check with the particular educational institution. Also, a charge related to sex or drugs can make getting financial aid difficult if not impossible.
Unfortunately, most professional licenses are not an option for convicted felons unless you get an expungement. Many high-paying professional careers, such as legal, medical, and financial fields, require a license. Other prominent fields, such as cosmetology, real estate, and pharmacology, require a professional license that felons cannot obtain.
However, convicted felons may still be able to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL). You will need to go to truck driving school to obtain your CDL, but it is probably best to avoid large truck driving companies as a felon. If you select a small or mid-size company, they may be open to hiring a felon if you are a first-time offender and have been out of prison for several years.
There are other careers that people with a felony may pursue that do not require a professional license. These include:
- Web designer
- Mobile app developer
- Wind turbine technician
- Professional writer
- Networks systems administrator
If you are charged with a felony and have a professional license, immediately retain a skilled criminal defense lawyer.
If you are in jail with a felony conviction, you are barred from voting in national or state elections. However, Texas Election Code 11.002 states that you could have your voting rights restored in the rare event that you are pardoned or your sentence discharged for a felony conviction.
Anyone convicted of a felony in Texas may not own firearms. However, state law says after five years from completing your sentence, probation, or parole, you may possess a firearm in your home.
Texas law states that anyone convicted of a felony cannot hold public office.
Any Texas landlord may refuse to rent to you if you have a criminal record within a certain period of years. If it is a sex crime, the landlord can refuse to rent to you regardless of when the crime happened.
You could receive harsher penalties if you are a repeat offender in Texas. Courts in the state often consider you a habitual offender if you were previously convicted. Whether it is the same criminal charge or another, having a criminal record could lead to harsher punishment and/or a worse-case outcome.
Expungement In Texas
Another problem with a felony conviction in Texas is that it is nearly impossible to have a crime expunged or removed from your record if you are convicted of it. There are exceptions when it is possible to expunge your record, however:
- Any crime you were charged with in Texas for which you were found not guilty by a jury or judge.
- If you were convicted but pardoned, the offense may be able to be expunged
- Prosecution cannot occur because the statute of limitations expired.
Whether a crime can or cannot be expunged from your record is complicated. Talk to our League City criminal defense attorney to find out more.
Can A Felony Charge Be Lowered To A Misdemeanor?
Sometimes a felony charge can be reduced to a misdemeanor. The primary way this can happen is if your criminal defense attorney successfully plea bargains with the prosecutor. A plea bargain is an agreement between you and the state to resolve your charge. A plea bargain gives your attorney a chance to point out any errors that might have happened in how the state or police handled the case. For instance, if your car was illegally searched and illegal drugs were found, your attorney might leverage that information to negotiate a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
How To Defend A Texas Felony Charge
This article makes it clear: There are serious implications for a felony conviction in Texas. So, hiring a skilled attorney and developing a sound defense is vital for your future. While your future may appear grim when you are arrested, remember that law enforcement only needs probable cause to put you in handcuffs. The government has a high burden to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Your criminal defense attorney in League City may pursue various defense strategies to fight for your freedom. Some of these are:
- The police conducted an illegal search and seizure, obtaining evidence that could be suppressed in court.
- Lack of knowledge or intent of the crime.
- You acted in self-defense of yourself or others.
- Law enforcement officers entrapped you.
If you have been arrested for a felony in Texas, the first step is to say nothing to the police and call your attorney immediately. The less you say to the police before, during, and after the arrest, the better for your case. Anything you say will be used against you, so let your attorney do all the talking to law enforcement.
Contact A League City Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Being charged and convicted of a felony can turn your life upside down, but with the help of an attorney, there is hope for a successful outcome. Remember, the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a high bar to clear. If you have been charged with a felony recently, you need prompt legal assistance to protect your rights. Contact our League City criminal defense lawyer at Mark Diaz & Associates for help at (409) 515-6170 for a case review.