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How Crimes Are Classified: Felonies and Misdemeanors

Updated on December 11, 2012

Criminal offenses in Texas are classified into two groups: misdemeanors and felonies. How a crime is classified depends on the seriousness of the offense. Serious crimes are considered felonies while lesser crimes are considered misdemeanors.


Generally speaking, misdemeanors are minor offenses such as DWI, harassment, disorderly conduct, theft, and violating a protective order, to name a few. There are three levels of misdemeanors:

Class A: punishable by fine not exceeding $4,000 and/or up to one year in county jail

Class B: punishable by fine not exceeding $2,000 and/or up to 180 days in county jail

Class C: fine not exceeding $500


The most serious offenses are considered felonies. Examples of felonies include murder, manslaughter, robbery, sexual assault, arson, indecency with a child, dog fighting, and kidnapping, to name a few. There are five levels of felonies.

Capital Offense: life imprisonment without parole or death by lethal injection

First Degree: 5-99 years or life imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding $10,000

Second Degree: 2-20 years imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding $10,000

Third Degree: 2-10 years imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding $10,000

State Jail Felony: 180 days -2 years in state jail and/or a fine not exceeding $10,000

Drug Offenses

Whether a drug offense is considered a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the type and amount of drugs in a person’s possession and whether the person manufactured or delivered the drug. Drug offense classifications are set forth in the Texas Controlled Substances Act.


The information in this article is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, comments, answers, or other communications should be taken as legal advice. The information provided is not intended to create, and viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.


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