Generally a misdemeanor is a less severe offense than a felony. One may be charged with a misdemeanor if found shoplifting, driving while intoxicated (DWI), assaulting someone, carjacking, and other similar offenses. Punishment may involve community service, fines, and possibly probation instead of jail time. If a misdemeanor leads to incarceration, time will be served in a county jail rather than a state prison. Misdemeanors are divided into classes:
Class A: up to one year in county jail and a fine upwards of $4,000
Class B: up to 180 days in jail and a fine upwards of $2,000
Class C: a maximum fine of $500 and generally no jail time.
Felonies are much more severe and therefore carry higher penalties. Some examples of felonies are sexual assault, manslaughter, bribery, murder, arson, and other similar crimes. The punishments are therefore much more severe:
Capitol felony: for capitol murder and inclues life in prison or the death penalty.
First degree: a prison sentence between 5 and 99 years, or life. This may include a fine up to $10,000 and the possibility of probation if the person has no prior criminal convictions.
Second degree: a prison sentence between 2 and 20 years, or life. There may possibly be a fine up to $10,000.
Third degree: a prison sentence between 2 and 10 years, and a fine up to $10,000.
State jail felony: This is the least serious class of felony offenses and includes non-violent crimes; includes a minimum of 180 days and up to 2 years in the State Jail Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a fine up to $10,000.