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What Makes a Felony Aggravated in Texas?

05/25/24

A felony offense is a very serious criminal charge. In Texas, a felony is any criminal offense that carries at least 180 days (though, usually at least one year) in state prison. Of course, not all felonies are created equal. An aggravated felony is effectively an enhanced criminal charge. Here, our San Antonio felony defense lawyer explains when a felony charge becomes “aggravated” in Texas.

Many Charges Can Be Handled as “Aggravated” Offenses in Texas

In Texas, several criminal offenses can escalate to “aggravated” status based on the specific situation surrounding the crime. Aggravation generally involves factors that increase the severity or heinousness of the underlying offense. For example, an assault charge may be classified as an aggravated assault if it involves the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault or results in serious bodily injury to another person. Similarly, burglary could become aggravated if it occurs in a habitation and the offender carries a weapon.

Bottom Line: An aggravated offense is a more serious criminal charge. It involves all of the elements of a particular non-aggravated felony charge and it also includes one (or more) additional elements that make the penalties even more severe.

Five Classifications of Felony Offenses in Texas

Notably, Texas does not actually have an overriding category of “aggravated” felony offenses. Instead, the state classifies felonies into five distinct categories—with each level of felony carrying even more harsh criminal penalties. Here is an overview:

  • State Jail Felony: The least severe type of felony, punishable by 180 days to 2 years.
  • Third-Degree Felony: Punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.
  • Second-Degree Felony: Punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison.
  • First-Degree Felony: Punishable 5 to 99 years or life in prison
  • Capital Felony: The most serious felony. punishable by life in prison or the death penalty

Aggravated Felony Charge Has Serious Implications for Immigration

For non-U.S. citizens, being charged with an aggravated felony has severe implications for immigration status. Indeed, it should be noted that the term “aggravated felony” has important implications for immigration law in the United States. American Immigration Council (AIC) explains that a conviction for a crime that is classified as an aggravated felony could potentially lead to immediate deportation and also make a person inadmissible to the country. The list of offenses that can be deemed aggravated felonies for immigration purposes is extensive and includes, but is not limited to, murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, and drug trafficking. A non-American citizen facing an aggravated felony charge should consult with a defense attorney right away.

Consult With Our San Antonio Aggravated Felony Defense Lawyer Today

At Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC, our San Antonio aggravated felony defense attorneys are aggressive, solutions-driven advocates for defendants. If you or your loved one was arrested and charged with a serious felony, please do not hesitate to contact our firm for your completely confidential case review. We defend aggravated felony across the wider region.