Strict Penalties and Harsh Sentences Make the State Known for Being Tough on Crime
Texas has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country and has the most people behind bars. Despite efforts to reduce the prison population, many offenses, including non-violent, low-level misdemeanors and felonies, are still harshly penalized.
At Maverick Ray & Associates, we represent individuals who have been charged with a crime in Texas. Our lawyers provide an aggressive, dedicated defense for each of our clients. We are an award-winning legal team that will fight for you. If you have been arrested for a crime in Houston or throughout Texas, contact our office for a consultation.
1. Repeat Offenses
As with many other states, Texas adheres to a strict “three-strikes” law. Under the state’s habitual offender statute, a person can face sentencing enhancements for being convicted of three felonies. Prison sentences under the three-strikes law can be extremely harsh.
The Texas Observer highlighted the intense prison sentences imposed on individuals convicted of low-level felonies such as stealing a rack of ribs. In that case, a man was sentenced to 50 years in prison because of his priors. Three-strikes laws result in lengthy prison sentences, in some cases 25 years to life in prison.
2. Crimes Against Animals or Livestock
Texas has a number of animal protection laws that can impose severe penalties against individuals accused of harming or neglecting pets and livestock. As a result, the state regularly ranks in the Top Tier for animal cruelty laws in the country.
Examples of animal protection laws and penalties in Texas include:
- Cruelty to livestock animals (Sec. 42.09) – can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine not to exceed $4,000 or a State Jail Felony punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
- Cruelty to non-livestock animals (Sec. 42.092) – imposes the same penalty as Sec. 42.09 but may also be charged as a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000 under certain circumstances.
- Dog Fighting (Sec. 42.10) – can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor or a State Jail Felony.
3. Drug Offenses
Although there has been a major push toward rehabilitation in lieu of jail time for non-violent drug offenses, thousands of people are still facing lengthy sentences for low-level drug possession.
A 2019 report by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) found that over 20,000 people were serving either a jail or prison sentence for a drug offense. Over half of the people serving time in prison for a drug offense were there on charges of possession.
4. Property Crimes
Property offenses are also heavily prosecuted in the state. According to the most recent data from the TDCJ, over 13,000 individuals were serving a prison sentence for a property offense; another nearly 3,000 were serving time in state jail.
Graffiti, interference with railroad property, criminal mischief, theft, and more can all be charged as felonies under Texas state law. In addition, white-collar crimes such as money laundering, credit card abuse, and making false statements to obtain property or credit are commonly met with harsh penalties. Depending on the case, a person accused of certain types of fraud may face state and federal charges.
5. Nonviolent Crimes
While most people think of the state as tough on crimes because they still allow the death penalty for capital offenses, Texas is also known for sending people to prison for decades for nonviolent crimes.
Thousands of inmates are serving a good portion of their life behind bars for nonviolent offenses. In some cases, individuals have been sentenced to life without parole for crimes that would have been no more than a slap on the wrist in other states.
A “second chance” bill is currently being considered by the Texas Legislature that would allow individuals who have served 15 to 20 years in prison, depending on their age, to be eligible for an adjusted sentence. HB 3392 will enable courts to commute sentences for inmates who have served over 15 years in prison for a felony if they are 50 or older and over 20 years if they are 35 or older to motion the court for a commutation on their sentence.
Arrested for a Crime in Texas? Contact Maverick Ray & Associates Today!
If you have been arrested for a crime in Texas, contact Maverick Ray & Associates for a consultation. Call (281) 324-8970 for legal representation you need to get the results you deserve. Attorney Maverick Ray is a proven trial lawyer, recognized for his high dismissal rate in Harris County and throughout Texas.
When you are facing serious criminal charges, you need experience you can trust. You need Maverick Ray & Associates to fight for you. Call today to get started.