In certain circumstances, Texas Law allows for certain “enhancements” with regard to the sentencing on criminal charges. And one of the circumstances that can affect it is if you’re considered a repeat (or habitual) offender. If you meet this definition, you could face harsher penalties for the same charge than if it was your first offense and had no previous convictions. For the court to use this enhancement, it needs to make sure you meet this specific definition. And if it doesn’t apply, they can’t use it against you.
Definition of a Habitual or Repeat Offender
Like many states around the country, Texas takes a hard stance on people who have been convicted of multiple felonies. If you had at least two previous felony charges and committed a third offense, you could be considered a habitual offender. And your sentencing could be harsher because of this designation. There are, however, some scenarios that could apply to this situation. Some of them can include but may not be limited to:
- If you were convicted of a third-degree or higher felony and are facing another third-degree felony charge, your conviction will be sentenced as if it were a second-degree felony.
- If you were convicted of a third-degree or higher felony and are facing a second-degree felony charge, your conviction will be sentenced as if it were a first-degree felony.
- If you were convicted of a third-degree or higher felony and are facing a first-degree felony charge, your conviction will be sentenced as if it were a capital felony with a minimum of 15 years in prison.
- If you had two previous state jail felony convictions and are facing a new state jail felony charge, your conviction will be sentenced as if it were a third-degree felony.
- If you had two previous third-degree or higher felony convictions committed in a series, getting a new state jail felony will be sentenced as a second-degree felony.
If you’re considered a repeat offender, it can significantly enhance the penalties you face if you’re convicted of another crime.
The Three Strike Law in Texas
Repeat offenders are subject to the Three Strike Law in Texas, which says that certain crimes committed with one or more previous occurrences could lead to the harshest possible penalties. For this to be the case, both of the previous convictions need to have occurred after the other has been completed and sentenced. But if there’s any overlap, they don’t count as “prior felony convictions.” If you had two previous felonies that apply to this rule and are facing a third felony conviction, it could result in the following penalties:
- Life in prison.
- A prison sentence not to exceed 99 years.
- A prison sentence not less than 25 years.
Even if you’re only facing a second-degree felony, you could be sentenced to life in prison.
Additional Enhancements for Repeat Offenders
Certain repeat offenses can lead of a life sentence even with only one previous conviction. These crimes are so serious that a repeat offense could lead to a person being permanently taken out of society. Some of them include but may not be limited to:
- Sexual assault (rape).
- Aggravated sexual assault.
- Indecency with a child.
- Aggravated kidnapping.
If any of these convictions are on your record, it’s extremely important for you to hire an attorney with experience in dealing with repeat offender cases. Otherwise, you could face a life sentence.
Possible Defenses Against a Repeat Offender Designation
The best way to defend yourself against a repeat offender designation is to be found not guilty of the charge you’re currently facing. If you’re not convicted, you can avoid the designation altogether. Some of the defenses that can lead to this result can include but may not be limited to:
- Filing a suppression motion that will exclude any evidence that was unconstitutionally gathered.
- Presenting reasonable doubt to the jury.
- Showing inconsistencies in the prosecutor’s case.
- Challenging the testimony or credibility of witnesses.
- Calling your own witnesses to testify on your behalf.
- Proving that the charges filed against you are false.
Even if you’re convicted, there are still ways to avoid the worst possible sentence. Texas judges have a great deal of discretion on how they can sentence you. Because of certain factors (such as prison overcrowding and funding problems), they will often give you something other than a life sentence. If you have an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Corpus Christi to help you with your case, you can show the judge why you should be given a lesser penalty than what he or she could impose. A qualified attorney knows what to argue, what the judge is looking for, and how to use the unique circumstances of your case to argue a lesser sentence.
If you’re looking for the best criminal defense attorney in Corpus Christi, be sure to get in touch with Gale Law Group.