Misdemeanors in Texas
What kind of crimes are considered misdemeanors in Texas? How do they differ from felonies?
Crime in Texas is classified into two categories; felony and misdemeanor charges. Felonies are usually considered more serious compared to misdemeanors. When you are arrested for class A or class B misdemeanor, your reputation and social life might be ruined. Though considered to be lesser charges, misdemeanors are still included in your criminal record hence hindering your chances of seeking employment and other life goals. The steep penalties associated with misdemeanor charges are sometimes accompanied by a prison sentence. A Texas misdemeanor attorney will be able to provide you with relevant details regarding your case.
Let’s look at some of the classes of misdemeanors while defining the examples of crimes classified under each class. The article also focuses on the options that your attorney can use to achieve a favorable outcome for the case.
A misdemeanor can be defined as a criminal charge, which is classified below a felony charge. Misdemeanor charges, according to the Texas penal code, have less severe penalties that do not involve being imprisoned in a state jail. Penalties for misdemeanors include;
Fines; Several misdemeanor offenses usually require the payment of fines. Regardless of the class of misdemeanor charge, you should expect to pay a higher fine than $4,000.
County jail sentence; There are charges that might result in a prison sentence, though it can be in the form of a house arrest or time in county jail. In other cases, the court might decide to punish the defendant with both a prison sentence and fines.
The state of Texas has three levels of misdemeanor charges, otherwise known as “classes.” Each class has a varying degree of punishment for the accused. The classes include; class A, class B, and class C misdemeanors.
This is the most severe type of misdemeanor compared to the other two. It is a criminal offense in Texas and is more severe compared to an infraction but less severe than a felony. They carry steep charges and can be enhanced into a felony or more serious charges if the offender has a prior Class A or another serious conviction. This will lead to greater a charge, such as confinement starting from 90 days to one year in state prison.
Examples of Class A Misdemeanors include the following;
Assault resulting in serious bodily harm of an individual including a family member
Evading and resisting arrest
A second offense of Driving While Intoxicated
Carry a weapon unlawfully
Possession of marijuana, especially if it is more than two ounces but less than 4 ounces.
Violating a protective order
Driving While Intoxicated
Probation or Deferment of Class A Misdemeanor
A person charged with Class A misdemeanor has several options, including probation and deferred judgment. These options are available for an initial term not exceeding two years. However, deferred judgment is not an option for specific Class A misdemeanors, including Driving While Intoxicated, second offense of misdemeanors, and Driving While Intoxicated.
Other options may include certain diversion programs that involve rehabilitation. In some cases, your attorney can negotiate for dismissal of the charges, which means the charges will not go on record. If that doesn’t work, then the case can go to trial where your lawyer might be able to exonerate you from all charges.
Implications of Being Convicted with a Class A Misdemeanor in Texas
There are certain consequences of being convicted with class A misdemeanor in Texas some of them include;
You will be banned from getting a license to own a firearm for five years
Possible enhancement of future misdemeanor charges
The charges will render you ineligible to get specific professional licenses
You may jeopardize your current employment and future employment opportunities
The charges automatically render you ineligible to assist in local and state functions.
According to the Texas penal code section 12.21, class, A misdemeanor carries the following penalties for those found guilty;
A fine that amounts to $4000
Serving a jail sentence for a period that does not exceed one year
Punished by both imprisonment and a fine
“A misdemeanor can be defined as a criminal charge, which is classified below a felony charge. Misdemeanor charges, according to the Texas penal code, have less severe penalties that do not involve being imprisoned in a state jail.“
What Is Meant by Class B Misdemeanor in Texas?
If you are facing class B misdemeanor charges in Texas, then you should expect to be punished by being sentenced to up to 6 months in jail. A class B misdemeanor charge that has been enhanced by a prior class B conviction or a higher offense is punishable from a period of 30 days to 180 days in prison.
Common class B misdemeanors include;
Criminal mischief of damages costing $100 to $750. Criminal mischief refers to the situation where a person damages, tampers with or destroys property hence causing loss to the owner. Criminal mischief focuses on property damage and not possession.
Criminal trespass is generally classified as a class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by a jail term of 180 days with a fine of up to $2,000. You might face a criminal trespass offense when an individual either refuses to vacate another person’s property after being warned or when the person goes back even after receiving a warning.
Driving while intoxicated/intoxicated open container
Theft amounting to $100 to $750
Possessing marijuana of under 2 ounces; The possession of marijuana charges can be quite strict in Texas. Low-level marijuana cases are also prosecuted, which is why you need a top-notch defense attorney who will get you a favorable outcome.
prostitution; This involves agreeing to or offering or engaging in a sexual act for money.
Class B misdemeanors probation
If you are facing class B misdemeanor charges, then your lawyer might advise you on the available options, which might be probation or deferred adjudication. It is essential to note that deferred adjudication is not a valid option for specific class B misdemeanors like driving while intoxicated.
There are several diversion programs available for those found guilty with class B misdemeanors. Since diversion programs are applied to rehabilitate the offender, instead of being imprisoned, they are considered to be a strong defense strategy.
Punishment for class B misdemeanors are defined under the Texas penal code section 12.22 as follows;
The individual is required to pay a fine not exceeding $2000
Imprisonment for a period not exceeding 180 days
Serving a prison sentence and paying the required fine
Enhanced class B misdemeanors
If you have a prior class B misdemeanor or higher, you are likely to receive a punishment of a minimum 30-day jail term to a maximum of 180 days.
Knowing the statute of limitations with regards to class B misdemeanors can help you with your charges. In this case, the statute of limitations for class B is placed at two years. If you think that the charges brought against you can be dropped due to the passage of time, then it is best to consult your Texas misdemeanor attorney.
Consequences of being convicted for a class B misdemeanor
Similar to class A misdemeanor conviction in Texas, an individual convicted of a class B misdemeanor is unable to acquire a license for carrying a weapon and will have to wait for five years. Also, offenses of moral turpitude, including theft, usually make the accused ineligible to be a member of a jury, seek employment, or vote. A class B misdemeanor involving marijuana results in the suspension of the drivers’ license for one year.
This is the lowest classification of criminal charges in the state of Texas. There is no jail time, but you will be required to pay a fine, depending on the charges brought against you. The maximum amount that you are expected to pay for a class C misdemeanor is $500. Though jail time is not part of the punishment for this level of offenses, a police officer can arrest you for some of the crimes except for speeding.
Can arrests be made for class C misdemeanors in Texas?
Though arrests for class C misdemeanors might appear unfair, in 2001, the US Supreme Court confirmed giving the right to police officers to make arrests for most class C crimes, as stated in the US.318, 319.
The offenses which you cannot be arrested for that are classified as class C misdemeanors include speeding, open container offense, and texting while driving. It is therefore considered misconduct if a police officer arrests you based on the crimes mentioned.
You should note that paying for a class C citation means that your conviction will be part of your criminal history. The best thing to do when arrested for a class C misdemeanor is to seek a criminal defense attorney who will represent you by ensuring that the charges brought against you are resolved to create room for expunction later.
Common crimes classified as class C misdemeanors
The following include crimes which have been categorized as class C misdemeanors in Texas;
Public Intoxication; An individual is charged with public intoxication commonly referred to PI if he or she is intoxicated in a public place to the extent where he/she might endanger himself/herself or another person.
Assault by contact; A person commits this offense if he/she intentionally causes physical contact with another individual while knowing that such an act might be regarded as offensive. An example includes spitting on someone or shoving them to the ground. This crime is defined in the penal code as a subset under the standard assault law.
Driving under the influence (DUI) is an offense in which an individual operates a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
Should I get a lawyer for a class C ticket?
Paying for a class C ticket might leave a record on your criminal history. Such information is usually available to certain institutions, which might hinder you from advancing professionally and socially. If your lawyer is successful, then the class C citation might be dismissed an later expunged hence leaving nor record of the offense.
The Texas penal code provides details for additional penalties for cases that involve habitual misdemeanor offenders or repeat offenders, as stated in penal code section 12.43. The term “habitual” or “repeat” offender is used to describe an individual who was previously convicted for a misdemeanor or a felony. The following penalties are imposed on a repeat or habitual offender;
A person who is currently facing a class A misdemeanor charge and has a prior class A misdemanor or a felony convicton faces possible jail sentence of 90 days to a year and or a maximum fine of $4000.
An individual facing possible class B misdemeanor offense and has a prior class A, class B, or a felony conviction faces punishment jail time from 30 days to 180 days and or a maximum fine of $2,000.
A person who is facing class C misdemeanor charges and has previously been convicted for such offenses within 24 months, three times might be required to serve a jail sentence of up to 180 days and or a maximum fine of $2,000.
Your misdemeanor attorney will explain to you the various options available, depending on the details of the case. One such option is probation, which is also called community supervision. Instead of sentencing the accused to prison, probation allows them to live in the community. Common conditions for a probation include;
Keeping away from legal issues
Finishing your community service
Maintaining regular visits with a probation officer
Attending rehabilitation classes
Making restitution payments
Your lawyer knows the various laws regarding misdemeanor cases, which is why seeking such counsel will ensure that you get the best possible outcome. When you are arrested, don’t wait until the case has progressed to get in touch with your lawyer. The sooner you include your legal counsel, the better.another common mistake done by most people is speaking to the prosecutors in the absence of your attorney; this might end up ruining your chances of the case being dismissed. If you or someone you care about is facing possible misdemeanor charges, then you can help them by consulting an attorney.
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