Criminal defense in Austin Texas.

What is a 12.44(a)?

Posted By on December 10, 2008

A 12.44(a) is a felony conviction, but with misdemeanor punishment.

It’s named after section 12.44 of the Texas Penal Code:

(a) A court may punish a defendant who is convicted of a state jail felony by imposing the confinement permissible as punishment for a Class A misdemeanor if, after considering the gravity and circumstances of the felony committed and the history, character, and rehabilitative needs of the defendant, the court finds that such punishment would best serve the ends of justice.

The time is served in the Travis County Jail, not in State Jail, and you get good time credit (two day’s credit for each day in jail), and trustee time (three day’s credit) if you work while you’re in there.

Since State Jail time is served day-for-day, a 12.44 means you’ll do half the time you would have done, or less.

A 12.44 is not something a judge will do unless it’s part of a plea bargain. On the other hand, if it is part of your plea bargain, there’s no special form or motion that needs to be filed.

Prosecutors are generally reluctant to agree to 12.44’s, and for a while they were saying they couldn’t do it, because of jail overcrowding. That was never really true, in my opinion (they could, their bosses were just telling them not to). And I haven’t heard them saying it recently.

A 12.44 is difficult to get a prosecutor to agree to, but not impossible. It’s the right result in many cases, but sometimes you have to set the case for trial before the DA will see it that way too.


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