Repeat And Habitual Felony Offenses In Texas

Adult male in handcuffs
Repeat offenders can face enhanced penalties in Texas

Texas takes a firm stance against multiple felony actions. When a defendant has at least two prior felony convictions and commits another felony, they may be considered a habitual offender. This status can cause a person's sentencing to increase when facing criminal charges.

Felony charges should always be taken seriously, especially if a person has prior felony charges on their record. Habitual felony offenders will face heavier sentencing, regardless of whatever level the original offense constituted. Some felony offenses may even entail the death penalty on a secondary offense on an increased sentence.

1. Texas Repeat And Habitual Felony Offenses

A person who has prior felony convictions (not including misdemeanors) on their criminal record is considered to be a habitual offender. Texas law provides a number of guidelines for sentencing defendants, based on what their prior convictions were and what the criminal charges they face are. Texas law has specific conditions for both repeat offenses and offenses that are considered habitual.1

1.1 Repeat Felony Offenses

  • If a defendant has been convicted of a 3rd degree or higher felony and faces another 3rd-degree felony charge, upon conviction they will face 2nd-degree felony sentencing
  • If a defendant is facing 2nd-degree felony charges, and has a 3rd degree or higher felony conviction on their record, upon conviction, their 2nd-degree felony sentencing will become a 1st-degree felony sentence
  • If a defendant is facing 1st-degree felony charges, and has a prior 3rd degree or higher felony conviction, the sentencing will be elevated to a capital felony, with a minimum of 15 years.
  • If a defendant has a prior state jail felony conviction and faces new state jail felony charges, they will face the punishments of a 2nd-degree felony upon conviction.

1.2 Habitual Felony Offenses

  • For defendants that have two or more state jail felony convictions, when facing another state jail felony, the punishment will be elevated to the level of a 3rd-degree felony upon conviction.
  • Defendants who have two prior felony convictions at the 3rd degree or above and are currently facing a state jail felony will face 2nd-degree felony punishments.

2. Additional Sentencing Considerations

Beyond prior convictions, certain other situations will also play a role in sentence increases for repeat offenses depending on the nature of the crime in question. In some cases, repeat felonies may cause a defendant to face a life sentence in prison. Defendants will face life in prison if they have prior felony level convictions for:2

  • Trafficking of Persons
  • Sexual Assault
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault
  • Burglary

A person may be charged with a capital felony (punishable by the death penalty) for subsequent felony convictions for the crimes of:

  • Aggravated Sexual Assault against certain protected victims3

Legal References

  1. Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 12.42, 12.425
  2. Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 12.42

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