How Prior Felonies Impact Your Sentence

July 8th, 2022 by Tad Nelson in Conviction

Criminal sentencing is sometimes unpredictable. The law gives judges some discretion as to whether to sentence a defendant to jail, as well as the amount of time they will serve. However, certain facts definitely come into play which will guide a judge’s decision.

One fact is your criminal history. If you have previous felony convictions, you can expect to be treated as a repeat or habitual offender. You could face extended time behind bars, so it is important to call our Houston criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible to develop a plan. We will canvas the evidence and make the strongest argument possible on your behalf.

Below, we analyze how a prior felony will enhance a sentence. It depends on whether you are facing a state jail felony charge or a more serious felony.

Facing State Jail Felony Charges with Prior Felony Convictions

Normally, a conviction for a state jail felony results in 18 months to 2 years behind bars and a $10,000 maximum fine. However, if you have prior felony convictions, then you are looking at more serious penalties under Penal Code Section 12.425:

  • If you have two or more prior state jail felony convictions, your punishment gets increased to that of a third-degree felony. You are facing up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
  • If you have two or more prior felonies of the third degree or higher, you will face second-degree felony penalties. Consequently, you could spend up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Facing Felony Charges with Prior Felonies

Those facing third-, second-, or first-degree felony charges could also see an enhancement if they have prior felony convictions:

  • If you face third-degree felony charges and have a prior felony conviction (other than a state jail felony), then you can be sentenced as if convicted of a second-degree felony. This means a maximum of 20 years in prison.
  • If you face second-degree felony charges but have a prior felony (other than state jail), you can be sentenced as if convicted of a first-degree felony.
  • If you face first-degree felony charges but have a prior felony (other than a state jail felony), you are facing life imprisonment.

Specific Crimes

Texas also has enhanced penalties for specific crimes, such as many sex crimes. Some examples include:

  • If you are convicted of Indecency with a Child, you can face life imprisonment if you have a previous conviction for Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography.
  • If you are convicted of Sexual Assault, you can face life imprisonment if you have a prior conviction for Sexual Assault.
  • If you are convicted of Kidnapping with the intent to sexually abuse a child, you face life imprisonment if you have a prior conviction for Trafficking of Persons.

This is only a sampling of some of the more common enhancements we see.

Contact Our Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately

Houston judges aren’t afraid to send defendants to prison for life if given the chance. Leniency is sometimes possible, but you need Tad Nelson’s experience to advocate for you during the sentencing phase of any trial. Contact our law firm today to learn more.

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