An Austin Criminal Defense Attorney Shares Everything You Need to Know About Misdemeanors in Texas
Facing a misdemeanor charge in Texas? Before pleading guilty, call 512-454-7548 to schedule a consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
While less serious than a felony, misdemeanors can have a long-lasting negative impact on your life. Having a misdemeanor on your record can cause you to get rejected for jobs and housing and prevent you from gaining custody of your children. In some instances, multiple misdemeanors can become felonies.
In this article, the leading criminal defense attorney at Jason S. English Law, PLLC, explains misdemeanor charges in Texas, including the three classes, alternative sentencing, and how they can become felonies.
Types of Misdemeanors in Texas
Texas has three classes of misdemeanors: Class A, B, and C. The penalties for these charges include jail time and fines, but there are alternative sentencing options. When determining the punishment for a misdemeanor, the judge will consider the circumstances of the crime. Penalties can be harsher for repeat offenses and crimes committed because of prejudice.
If a judge sentences jail time for a misdemeanor, the individual will serve time in a county jail or under house arrest.
Class C Misdemeanors
- $500 maximum fine
- No jail time
Examples of Crimes:
- Public intoxication
- Driving under the influence (DUI) as a minor
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
Class B Misdemeanors
- $2,000 maximum fine
- 180 days maximum jail time
Examples of Crimes:
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI), first offense
- Possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana
- Indecent exposure
- Criminal trespassing
Class A Misdemeanors
- $4,000 maximum fine
- One year maximum jail time
Examples of Crimes:
- DWI, second offense
- Assault with bodily injury
- Possession of 2 to 4 ounces of marijuana
- Animal cruelty
Alternative Sentencing for Texas Misdemeanors
Besides fines and jail time, there are other penalty options for those guilty of misdemeanors. The judge who determines the sentence may order the following alternatives:
The defendant can avoid conviction and a criminal record with deferred adjudication. If the plea is guilty, the judge may put the sentence on hold and provide conditions for the defendant to get the case dismissed.
The length of deferred adjudication can be up to two years, and if the individual does not meet the conditions within that time, the judge can continue with sentencing.
Community Supervision (Probation)
The judge can suspend the defendant's jail time and put them on community supervision for up to two years. During this time, the defendant must follow all laws, check in with a probation officer, and uphold the terms of the suspension.
Common terms for community supervision include required medical/counseling treatments, suspension of driver's license, and no-contact orders. If the defendant violates these terms, they may have to serve the original sentence.
Options to Jail Time
If an individual's sentence requires jail time, the judge may allow them to serve their time during hours outside of work or while under house arrest. The defendant may also work community service hours in place of jail time if the court allows it.
The court may order an individual to participate in a specialty court as a condition of deferred adjudication or community supervision. Specialty courts seek to resolve issues that cause criminal behavior, such as drugs, mental health, and trauma. The defendant must appear in court for treatment and supervision.
Can You Remove Misdemeanors from Your Record?
Several options are available for removing misdemeanors from your record, though a certain amount of time needs to pass before it can happen. In Texas, you can attempt to expunge a Class C misdemeanor from your record 180 days after the arrest. You must wait one year from the arrest date for Class A and Class B misdemeanors.
Individuals in Texas may expunge misdemeanors from their records in the following cases:
- The court dismisses the charges
- The governor pardons the individual
- A person convicted as a minor turns 18
- Petition for order of nondisclosure
How Misdemeanors Turn into Felonies in Texas
Misdemeanor crimes may evolve into felonies depending on the individual's prior offenses, level of inflicted harm, and the status of the victim. For example, a misdemeanor assault charge can become a felony if the victim is a police officer or a pregnant woman. Also, if the individual assaulted someone by strangulation or suffocation, the high level of risk involved makes the crime a felony.
Jason S. English Law, PLLC: Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Texas
If you have been searching online for a “criminal defense lawyer near me,” then you or a loved one may be facing a misdemeanor charge. Before you plead guilty, consult with an experienced criminal attorney to learn about your options.
Criminal defense attorney Jason English has more than 15 years of experience as a prosecutor, giving him the advantage of knowing the strategies the court will use against you. He will use his knowledge and extensive courtroom experience to create a compelling defense against your charges as your criminal lawyer.
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