Misdemeanor Crimes in Texas
- October 26, 2016
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on Misdemeanor Crimes in Texas
When a person is charged with a crime in the state of Texas, that crime will be in a specific category. Crimes are categorized based on the perceived severity of the actions. For example, a minor crime such as jaywalking will be placed into a lesser category than a robbery.
Misdemeanors represent some of these lower-level offenses. They also are the most frequently charged offenses. Although these crimes are often lower in severity than felonies, they still have the potential to lead to very serious consequences.
What Are Misdemeanors?
The category of misdemeanor crimes covers a wide range of offenses. Typically, these are low level offenses that do not represent a large threat to society.
For example, common examples of misdemeanors include:
- Driving While Intoxicated
- Indecent exposure
- Driving without a license
- Public intoxication
It should be noted that many of these crimes are charged as misdemeanors for first-time offenders. Repeated commissions of the same offense can cause the penalty category to be upgraded, either to a more serious misdemeanor or a felony.
Some misdemeanor crimes can be upgraded to felony status if they are committed repeatedly.
For example, a person who is charged with their first DWI offense will usually be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. However, if that same person continues to be convicted of DWI, they may eventually be charged with felony DWI, which carries a potential of prison time.
In other cases, a misdemeanor can be upgraded to felony status based on the circumstances of a case.
For example, David gets into an argument with a neighbor and pushes his neighbor. He is charged with simple assault, a misdemeanor offense.
However, if David gets into an argument with his neighbor, pushes him and then begins hitting his neighbor with a baseball bat, he could be charged with aggravated assault. If his neighbor is badly injured as a result, David could face felony charges.
Common Penalties and Examples
There are many types of misdemeanor crimes. The following information will list some common penalties for each misdemeanor category, as well as some crimes that fall into each category.
Class C Misdemeanor
This is the least serious type of misdemeanor. Common examples of Class C misdemeanors in Texas include crimes such as:
- Public intoxication
- Simple assault
The criminal penalties for a Class C misdemeanor conviction do not include jail time. The typical punishment is:
- A fine of up to $500
In some cases, a judge may choose to impose a sentence of probation and/or community service instead of a fine.
Class B Misdemeanors
These are the next highest category of misdemeanor offenses in Texas. Common examples of Class B misdemeanors include:
- Driving While Intoxicated (first offense)
- Possession of up to two ounces of marijuana
Class B misdemeanors have tougher punishments. Punishments for these crimes include:
- A fine of up to $2000
- Up to six months in county jail
As with Class C misdemeanors, Class B misdemeanor offenses may result in probation, community service and mandatory screening or counseling instead of or in addition to jail time and fines.
Class A Misdemeanors
This is the highest level of misdemeanor offenses in the state. Crimes above this level are ranked as felony offenses, which can lead to prison time and steep fines.
Common examples of Class A misdemeanor crimes include:
- Driving While Intoxicated (second offense)
- Promoting prostitution
- Carrying a firearm without a license
As the most serious misdemeanor category, Class A crimes have harsher punishments than lower categories. Penalties can include:
- Up to one year in county jail
- A fine of up to $4000
It should be noted that misdemeanor crimes in Texas can be punished with time in county jail while felony offenses can lead to sentences in state jail or state prison.
Prison is much more restrictive than county jails and people incarcerated in prison are less likely have some of the freedoms available in county jail. However, it’s important to state that misdemeanor offenses are not insignificant or inconsequential. These crimes have the potential to affect a person’s life for years to come.
Misdemeanor Crimes and Criminal Records
Misdemeanor offenses are recorded on a person’s criminal record in the same way that felonies are recorded. While a misdemeanor is “less serious” than a felony, it is by no means a simple issue.
Misdemeanors can affect a person’s ability to get a job, find financial assistance or to pass a background check. Some people may believe that misdemeanors may fall off of a person’s record after some time has passed, but this is not true.
However, people who are charged with misdemeanors may have a chance to enroll in a diversionary program or obtain deferred adjudication, which may help them clear their records once their sentence is successfully completed.