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Frequently asked questions about criminal defense

What's the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor offense is a crime that is punished by a maximum of one year in the county jail. Felonies are more serious crimes which are punishable by more than one year in the state prison system. Behaviors punishable only by fine, such as traffic violations, are usually not considered crimes at all, but are infractions.

What are the penalties for misdemeanors in Texas?

  • A Class A misdemeanor carries a punishment of up to $4,000, jail time of up to a year, or both.
  • A Class B misdemeanor is punishable with a fine up to $2,000, up to 180 days in jail, or both.
  • A Class C misdemeanor carries a fine of up to $500.

If I'm charged with a crime, will I have a trial by a jury?

The U.S. Constitution gives a person accused of a crime punishable by a sentence longer than six months the right to be tried by a jury.

Should I contact an attorney if I'm under investigation but have not been charged?

Absolutely. Representation at an early stage in a case can increase the odds of no charges or reduced charges being filed. An attorney also can protect your rights during the investigation.

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Attorney Burton believes every client deserves an attorney dedicated to their best interests. Contact Burton Law Firm online or at (713) 489-4997, day or night, to see how he can help with everyday legal needs.

What procedure does a police officer have to follow before administering a breath, blood, or urine test for a DWI stop?

Before an officer can request a person to submit a sample, the officer must inform the person orally and in writing that:

  • if the person refuses to submit to the taking of the specimen, that refusal may be admissible in a subsequent prosecution;
  • if the person refuses to submit to the taking of the specimen, the person's license to operate a motor vehicle will be automatically suspended, whether or not the person is subsequently prosecuted as a result of the arrest, for not less than 180 days;
  • if the person refuses to submit to the taking of a specimen, the officer may apply for a warrant authorizing a specimen to be taken from the person;
  • if the person is 21 years of age or older and submits to the taking of a specimen designated by the officer and an analysis of the specimen shows the person had an alcohol concentration of .08 or greater, the person's license to operate a motor vehicle will be automatically suspended for not less than 90 days, whether or not the person is subsequently prosecuted as a result of the arrest;
  • if the person is younger than 21 years of age and has any detectable amount of alcohol in the person's system, the person's license to operate a motor vehicle will be automatically suspended for not less than 60 days even if the person submits to the taking of the specimen, but that if the person submits to the taking of the specimen and an analysis of the specimen shows that the person had an alcohol concentration less than .08, the person may be subject to criminal penalties less severe than those provided under that chapter;
  • if the person accused of DWI does not have a license to operate a motor vehicle in that state, the state will deny the person issuance of a license regardless of whether the traffic stop ends in an arrest for the same periods as if they did have a driver's license issued by that state; and
  • the person has a right to a hearing on the suspension or denial if a formal, written request is made with the appropriate court within 15 days of the offense.
    • A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.
    • This offense is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours.
    • If it is shown at trial that at the time of the offense the person operating the motor vehicle had an open container of alcohol in the person's immediate possession, the offense is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of six days.
    • If it is shown at trial that the accused person's blood, breath, or urine showed an alcohol concentration level of 0.15 or more at the time the test was performed, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.
      • capital felonies
      • felonies of the first degree
      • felonies of the second degree
      • felonies of the third degree and
      • state jail felonies
      • life, or
      • life without parole.
      • a sentence of life imprisonment is mandatory on conviction of the capital felony, or
      • a sentence of life imprisonment without parole is mandatory on conviction of the capital felony.
      • An individual found guilty of a first degree felony shall be imprisoned for a minimum of 5 years with a maximum sentence of life, or a term of not more than 99 years.
      • In addition to imprisonment, an individual found guilty of a first degree felony may be fined up to $10,000.
      • An individual found guilty of a second degree felony shall be imprisoned for a minimum of 2 years up to a maximum sentence of 20 years.
      • In addition to imprisonment, an individual found guilty of a second degree felony may be fined up to $10,000.
      • An individual found guilty of a third degree felony shall be imprisoned for a minimum of two years up to a maximum sentence of 10 years.
      • In addition to imprisonment, an individual found guilty of a third degree felony may be fined up to $10,000.
      • An individual found guilty of a state jail felony shall be imprisoned for a minimum of 180 days up to a maximum of 2 years.
      • In addition to imprisonment, an individual found guilty of a state jail felony may be fined up to $10,000.
      • An individual found guilty of a state jail felony shall be punished for a third degree felony if it is shown on the trial of the offense that:
        • a deadly weapon was used or exhibited during the commission of the offense or during immediate flight following the commission of the offense, and that the individual used or exhibited the deadly weapon or was a party to the offense and knew that a deadly weapon would be used or exhibited; or
        • the individual has previously been finally convicted of any felony:
      • If it is shown at the trial of a state jail felony that the defendant has previously been finally convicted of two state jail felonies, on conviction the defendant shall be punished for a third degree felony.
      • If it is shown at the trial of a state jail felony that the defendant has previously been finally convicted of two felonies other than a state jail felony, and the second previous felony conviction is for an offense that occurred after the first previous conviction having become final, on conviction the defendant shall be punished for a second degree felony.
      • If it is shown at the trial of a state jail felony for which punishment may be enhanced that the defendant has previously been finally convicted of a felony other than a state jail felony, on conviction the defendant shall be punished for a second degree felony.
    • If you have been charged with a DWI, there are certain time requirements to file your driver's license hearing, please contact our office immediately.

      For more information on the range of punishments for Class A and Class B misdemeanors, see the "misdemeanor" section on our website.

      What are the different types of felonies and what penalties are associated with each type?

      (a) Felonies are classified according to the relative seriousness of the offense into five categories:

      Capital Felony:

      (a) An individual found guilty of a capital felony in a case in which the state seeks the death penalty shall be punished by imprisonment for life without parole or by death. An individual adjudged guilty of a capital felony in a case in which the state does not seek the death penalty shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for:

      (b) In a capital felony trial in which the state seeks the death penalty, prospective jurors shall be informed that a sentence of life imprisonment without parole or death is mandatory on conviction of a capital felony. In a capital felony trial in which the state does not seek the death penalty, prospective jurors shall be informed that the state is not seeking the death penalty and that:

      First Degree Felony:

      Second Degree Felony:

      Third Degree Felony:

      State Jail Felony:

      If you have been charged with any of these felonies, please contact our office immediately so we can set up a consultation to discuss the legal options in your case.

      What rights do police offers have to advise me of when I am going to be interrogated?

      Before any words or actions constituting "interrogation," officers must give the suspect these warnings known as your Miranda Rights:

      1) you have the right to remain silent;

      2) anything you say can and will be used against you in court;

      3) you have the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with you during interrogation;

      4) if you cannot afford an attorney, a lawyer will appointed to represent you; and

      5) you have the right to stop the questioning at any time.

Repeat and Habitual Felony Offenders:

    (a) If you have been charged with a DWI, there are certain time requirements to file your driver's license hearing, please contact our office immediately.

    (b) What is a DWI and what type of offense is it?

    (c) Driving While Intoxicated (DWI):


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Burton Law Firm is located in Houston, TX and serves clients in and around Tomball, Houston, Fort Bend County, Harris County, Montgomery County.

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