In Texas, a person’s previous criminal convictions may come back to haunt the present. If you are facing a criminal charge in Texas, you must carefully consider the number and type of any previous criminal convictions. In some situations, a previous conviction or convictions may be used to “enhance” or raise the punishment level in the charge you are now facing.
Your previous convictions may have no impact, a minor impact or in some cases a major impact with lengthy mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment. So, how does the law work?
1st degree felony charges: If you face a first degree felony, one prior non state jail felony conviction raises your statutory range from 5-99 or life to 15-99 years or life. Two prior sequential non state jail felony conviction raise the minimum punishment to an eye popping 25 years.
2nd degree felony charges: If you face a second degree felony case, two prior sequential non state jail felony conviction raise the minimum punishment from 2-20 years to 25-99 years or life. One prior felony conviction elevates the minimum to 15 years.
3d degree felony charges: For third degree cases, a prior felony conviction may raise the punishment range up to that of a second degree- 2-20 years.
State jail felony: For state jail felony cases it is more complicated. A previous felony conviction listed for an offense know in the law as “3g” offense will have the effect of raising the offense level to that of a third degree. The phrase “3g” comes from section 42.12 section 3g of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. “3g” offenses are listed here. The same is true if a person was previously convicted of an offense where it was found that the person used or exhibited a deadly weapon.State Jail felony cases may also be enhanced as high as second degree if you have two prior final felony convictions of any level and the second offense was committed after the first one became final.
Class A Misdemeanor: Yes, even misdemeanors may be enhanced. If one is charged with a Class A misdemeanor and has previously been convicted of any felony or a Class A misdemeanor the minimum punishment may be enhanced to 90 days.
Class B Misdemeanor: Any prior conviction higher than a Class C subjects one to a potential enhancement of the minimum punishment to 30 days.
If you have criminal history and are facing new charges, it is essential that you consult with a qualified criminal defense attorney concerning the impact that your previous criminal convictions may have on the new case. The enhancement provision are complicated and experienced attorneys can develop strategies designed to maximize the likelihood that you can avoid the harsh consequences of punishment enhancements under Texas law.