In Texas, there are three “degrees” of crime: Felonies, misdemeanors and infractions. Felonies are the most serious types of criminal charges, including murder, sexual assault and assault with a deadly weapon. Infractions are minor offenses, such as creating a public nuisance or jaywalking. The majority of crimes fall under misdemeanors, which can include anything from petty theft or making a false report to the police to minor drug possession or public intoxication.
Misdemeanors are taken seriously and aggressively prosecuted in Texas. Moreover, an arrest or conviction can stay on your record indefinitely. While there is no expiration date on your record, there is a two-year statute of limitations on how long the prosecution has to bring a case in misdemeanor charge. Depending on the type of crime, whether you were arrested but not charged, or were convicted, you may be able to have the record sealed or expunged.
Different levels of Texas misdemeanors
Every misdemeanor conviction carries a possible fine, jail time, or both. Because misdemeanors cover a broad range of crimes, the “level” of misdemeanor depends on the severity of the offense:
- Class A Misdemeanor: This is the most serious level of misdemeanor and includes assault causing bodily injury, carrying a gun without a permit, domestic violence, burglary, theft of property valued at least $500 but not more than $1,500, and a second offense for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or a DWI with a blood alcohol content greater than .15. A conviction for Class A Misdemeanor offenses carries a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $4,000, or both.
- Class B Misdemeanor: Crimes in this category include harassment, prostitution, possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, indecent exposure, and a first offense DWI, reckless driving, or criminal trespass, among others. Conviction for a Class B Misdemeanor can mean up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
- Class C Misdemeanor: While more serious than an infraction, a Class C Misdemeanor can still carry penalties of fines up to $500. There is no jail time, but the judge may order community service. Class C Misdemeanors include possession of drug paraphernalia, voyeurism (peeping Tom), minor possession of tobacco, writing a bad check in the amount of $20 or less, jumping bail, and petty theft, among others.
If a defendant has been previously convicted for a misdemeanor or is a habitual offender, the penalty can be enhanced to increase the jail sentence and/or fines beyond the guidelines for the misdemeanor offense.
Don’t let a misdemeanor conviction ruin your life
When a misdemeanor is on your record, it can cause problems in obtaining employment, getting into college or obtaining a firearms license. If you are facing charges, learn more about how our Texas board-certified criminal law attorney can help. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, please call us at 281-358-9111 or contact us online.