Does Texas Have A Three-Strikes Law?
Texas, along with many other states, has enacted a three-strikes law that carries a higher punishment if you have committed multiple crimes and are likely to commit crimes in the future. Texas enacted this law to keep habitual offenders in jail and make the state safer for the public.
The three-strikes law in Texas is applied to certain felonies that are serious or violent. They include:
- Use of a weapon while committing a crime
- Child Molestation
- Crimes that involve explosions
- Crimes resulting in someone being severely injured or inflicting ‘great bodily harm’
How the Three-Strikes Law in Texas Works
The three-strikes rule can cause a judge to hand down a more substantial jail sentence (from 15 to 25 years) if you’re convicted of a crime that wouldn’t generally carry such a harsh punishment.
In Texas, the three-strikes law focuses on the classification of the Texas penal code and sets the penalties based on how severe your current and past felonies were. This means that if you were convicted of two first-degree felonies, your third conviction would be judged under the three-strikes law.
While Texas courts do take into account the penal severity of your conviction, under the three-strikes law, a first-degree felony would still get you a minimum of 15 years in jail, which may increase if other penalties are assessed.
Second and third convictions may require you to serve a life sentence, depending on how severe the crimes were. They include:
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Indecency with a child
- Sexual assault
Even though Texas does have a third-strike law that is enforced, it doesn’t always mean you will receive a lengthy jail sentence on your third offense. Because of overcrowding in jails, tight budgets, and strategies from Texas criminal defense attorneys, the judge may sentence you to a state jail offense instead of a felony. This means that your conviction wouldn’t count as a strike.
Three-Strikes Law Controversy
In some states, the three-strikes law has been challenged. Some critics believe that in some cases, the harsh sentences don’t fit the crime. Other critics say that crime rates were decreasing before the law was enacted, that it’s unnecessary, and there are different ways to punish repeat offenders.
A recent study found that the three-strikes law only had a minor part to play in the reduction of crime in the states that have it. They accredited the decrease in crime rates in some states to trends in the social culture.
Many critics don’t think the law works the way it was intended. In one case, a man in Texas was arrested when he refused to give a refund to a customer whose air conditioner he’d repaired had malfunctioned. He was charged with felony theft, and because he had two other convictions (both for non-violent crimes) the court considered this his third strike, and he was convicted and given life in prison.
If you’re facing three strikes, then it is imperative that you contact an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney. They will be able to fully explore your legal options and the rights afforded to you under the law to reduce the severity of your sentence.
The attorneys at Fears Nachawati are experienced in representing all manner of criminal defense cases, ranging from serious felonies to Class C misdemeanors. You can be assured that we will fight for you and your legal rights and that no case is too big or too small for us to take on.
Don’t delay in reaching out to the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Fears Nachawati for your free, no-obligation legal consultation to discuss the specifics of your case and the three-strikes law. Please call (866) 705-7584, or visit the offices of Fears Nachawati located throughout the great state of Texas, including in Houston, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, and San Antonio.