Misdemeanor Consequences in Texas
Misdemeanors are less serious offenses than felonies, yet they nevertheless have serious consequences for those who are convicted. While the maximum sentence for misdemeanors is less severe, defendants can still face fines, jail time, and a criminal record. Because misdemeanors and first-time offenses can have long-term ramifications, it’s advisable to contact an experienced attorney to appeal for maximum leniency on your behalf.
The most serious of the misdemeanor consequences involve prison time, which will depend on your criminal history, the case against you, the judge, and the classification of your crime.
Texas has three classifications for misdemeanors:
- Class A Misdemeanor may result in a year in jail, a fine of no more than $4,000, or both.
- Class B misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of no more than $2,000, a jail sentence of no more than 180 days, or both, depending on the circumstances of the crime.
- Class C misdemeanors are the least serious of all punishments, with a fine of no more than $500. A Class C Misdemeanor conviction carries no legal disability or disadvantage.
It is crucial to note that these prison terms are imposed per charge, not per individual, so if the charges are stacked against you, your sentence could last more than a year. Judges have discretion in deciding whether to sentence offenders concurrently or consecutively, which is why you should have an experienced criminal attorney on your side to make a strong and compelling case for leniency before the judge.
In addition to jail time, misdemeanor consequences include:
- Mandatory drug or alcohol abuse treatment (depending on the offense).
- Mandatory supervised community service work.
- A maximum of two years on supervised probation.
- Driver’s license suspension (for moving violations and some alcohol or drug-related crimes).
- Loss of the right to own a firearm (for drug or violent offenses).
- Loss or denial of professional licensing (for trucking, FAA, security guard, and other posts).
- Difficulty seeking employment (despite the state’s anti-discrimination laws).
- Ineligibility for public housing or welfare benefits (particularly for drug and alcohol convictions).
- Deportation (if you are an immigrant with legal resident status).
Although the conditions differ, Texas allows for the automatic expungement or sealing of minor criminal records at the age of 18. Adults convicted of misdemeanors or first-time offenders may be able to erase or seal their records with the assistance of a criminal defense attorney, lifting some of the consequences against them. Exceptions include regaining access to firearms or being removed from a sex offender register. Misdemeanors like DWIs, traffic violations, theft, trespassing, vandalism, resisting arrest, and other non-violent offenses are frequently purged if specific conditions are met. Even if you served your sentence and/or paid your fine without incident, you must still wait for one to three years and conduct no further offenses during that period in order to restore your good name.
How Much Are Misdemeanor Fines in Texas?
In the State of Texas, misdemeanor fines include:
- Up to $4,000 for Class A misdemeanors
- Up to $2,000 for Class B misdemeanors
- Up to $500 for Class C misdemeanors
Although these fines are much lower than the $10,000 limit for felonies, they may nevertheless cause financial hardship for the accused. In addition to the fines imposed by the court, criminals may be required to pay the cost of their probation, which can range from $60 to $100 each month. Probation usually entails alcohol or drug test, treatment, and counseling at the defendant’s expense.
What Are Common Misdemeanor Charges?
Common misdemeanor charges include:
- Class A misdemeanors – Assault, Animal Cruelty, Burglary, Conspiracy, Obscenity, Perjury, Harboring a Runaway Child, Violating a Restraining Order, Unlawful Weapon Possession, Secondary DWI
- Class B misdemeanors – First Time DWI, Prostitution, Indecent Exposure, Theft, Resisting Arrest, Failure To Pay Child Support, False 911 Claims, Trespassing, Minor Drug Possession, Harassment
- Class C misdemeanors – Assault Without Injury, Leaving a Child Unattended, Shoplifting Under $50, Possessing Drug Paraphernalia, Public Intoxication, Skipping Bail, Disorderly Conduct
What Are Punishments for a Probation Violation?
Probation violations include failing to:
- Meet with a supervising officer
- Pay a fine on-time
- Pass a drug or alcohol screening test
- Attend court-ordered community service or treatment
- Tampering with your ankle monitoring device
- Leaving the jurisdiction without permission
- Contacting someone with an injunction against you, or
- Committing another crime.
In the state of Texas, a probation violation is a significant offense. Even first-time offenders can anticipate their probation to be revoked and an arrest warrant issued, regardless of whether the initial offense was a misdemeanor or a felony. A tough judge might revoke your probation and order you to serve time in prison. As punishment, you may spend a few months in jail or serve the remainder of your original maximum sentence.
You will need to employ a misdemeanor lawyer and ask the judge to set a bond, which will most likely be twice the average sum. Hiring an attorney to represent you in a probation violation case might help you lengthen the time you have to pay a fine as well as lessen or prevent prison time.
Texas Misdemeanor Expungement
When an arrest record is expunged, the offender is relieved of the obligation to state the offense on paper, but not under oath. C-class Misdemeanors may be expunged in certain circumstances, but only if certain criteria, such as community supervision and deferred adjudication, are met. Except in certain domestic violence cases, expungement may also restore the right to bear arms in nearly all convictions.
Some records in Texas can be sealed rather than expunged. These usually only include juvenile records. Sealing records prevents the public from viewing them unless future proceedings require it. For a person to be eligible, two years must have passed since their discharge, and no other felonies or misdemeanors may have been committed since that time.