Clients will often ask about these two sections in the criminal code, and while they can be an effective tool in some cases, they are not as broadly used as some probably believe.
Under Texas Penal Code Chapter 12.44, a prosecutor may punish a State Jail Felony as a Class A misdemeanor. First note that this applies to State Jail Felonies only. 3rd degree or higher felonies are not eligible for 12.44 unless the prosecutor also agrees to drop the charge down to a SJF.
A plea under 12.44 has two major advantages when calculating jail time. First, the Class A range is 0 days to 1 year. State Jail Felony is 180 days to 2 years. Also important is that a 12.44 plea can qualify you for 2-for-1 or even 3-for-1 time in jail.
Additionally, 12.44 is broken into sections (a) and (b). This is an important difference, because if a prosecutor allows a plea under 12.44(b), the conviction is considered a misdemeanor instead of a felony. A felony conviction of any type can have severe repercussions on a person’s life, so it is important to pay close attention to whether the plea is an (a) or a (b) under 12.44.
A 12.45 is useful when a person has multiple charges against him or her. A 12.45 can allow a court to take account of multiple charges when admitting to a single charge in a plea. The multiple charges can sometimes be across multiple jurisdictions so long as you get cooperation from the State in each jurisdiction.
When it comes to your criminal record, a 12.45 is a grey area. Even though a 12.45 is not a conviction per se, the defendant is still must admit guilt. The arrest and the 12.45 plea itself cannot be expunged and will be a part of your criminal history permanently.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Travis, Williamson or surrounding counties, call 512-677-5003 for a free consultation.