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I’ve Been Charged with a Felony. What should I do?

Businessman in handcuffs

In the United States, the federal government defines a felony as a crime punishable by death or by imprisonment for longer than one year.  A federal crime or federal offense is an act that is made illegal by federal legislation.  Many federal offenses are enumerated in Title 18 of the United States Code.

Texas law provides for several categories of felonies — all of which are punishable by a prison term longer than 1 year:

(a) Capital felony – punishable by life in prison or death;

(b) First degree felony – punishable by life or 5-99 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000;

(c) Second degree felony – punishable by 2-20 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000;

(d) Third degree felony – punishable by 2-10 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000;

(e) State jail felony – punishable by 180 days to 2 years in State jail and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

See Texas Penal Code § 12.04(a); 12.31-12.35.

A felony conviction — both at the state and federal levels — can have extremely serious consequences, including significant prison or jail time, a substantial fine, and loss of certain fundamental rights (e.g., the right to vote, the right to bear arms).  Additionally, a felony conviction can make it extremely difficult to obtain or maintain employment.

If you have been accused of a felony or think you may be involved in criminal activity, you should take these important steps to protect your rights:

First, contact an experienced attorney right away.  It is crucial to retain an attorney immediately to protect yourself and to prepare a defense, if necessary.

Second, do not discuss the matter with anyone other than your retained counsel.  The attorney-client privilege protects the privacy of communications between you and your legal counsel.  Such a privilege does not apply to communications you have about the case with any other person (including via email, social media, or otherwise).  You should especially refrain from making statements to law enforcement without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.

Third, be proactive in your defense.  Even without legal expertise, you can assist your attorney in preparing your defense.  For example, your attorney may need you to provide him or her access to relevant documents and information.  Having access to the appropriate records can prove extremely valuable to mounting a strong defense in your case.

If you have been charged with a felony, contact our offices to speak to an experienced attorney who knows how to fight for your rights.

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