Misdemeanors are considered minor crimes compared to felonies, but they still carry serious consequences for the convicted. While maximum sentencing is more lenient for misdemeanors, individuals can still receive fines, jail time, and a criminal record. Since first time offenses and misdemeanors can have lasting consequences, it’s best to contact an experienced attorney at Peveto Law to plead for maximum leniency on your behalf.
Misdemeanor Consequences Are No Joke in Texas
The most serious of the misdemeanor consequences involves 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 – Punishable by up to 1 year in jail
- Class B – Punishable by up to 6 months in jail
- Class C – Punishable by fine only
It is important to note that these prison terms are per charge, not per individual, so if the charges are stacked up against you, the term can exceed a year. Judges exercise discretion in deciding whether to give defendants concurrent or consecutive sentences, which is why it’s advisable to have an experienced misdemeanor attorney on your side to make strong and convincing arguments 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).
Texas allows for the automatic expungement or sealing of juvenile criminal records at age 18, although the circumstances vary. With the help of a criminal defense attorney, adults convicted of misdemeanor or first-time offenses may be able to expunge or seal their records to lift some of the sanctions against them. Exceptions include restoring gun ownership capability or removal from a sex offender registry. Misdemeanors like DWIs, traffic offenses, theft, trespassing, vandalism, resisting arrest, and other non-violent crimes are commonly expunged when certain requirements are met. If you served your sentence and/or paid your fine without incident, you will still have to wait one to three years and commit no other crimes during that time 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
These fines are considerably less than the $10,000 maximum for felonies, but may still cause financial hardship for the accused. On top of fines assessed by the court, defendants may be expected to cover the cost of their probation, which can be $60 to $100 per month. Usually probation involves alcohol or drug screening, 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.
A probation violation is considered a serious offense in the State of Texas. Even first-time violators can expect a revocation of probation and warrant out for their arrest, regardless of whether the primary offense was a misdemeanor or a felony. A strict judge can revoke probation entirely and insist that you serve a prison term. Jail time can be a few months as punishment or the remaining term of your original maximum sentence.
You will need to hire a misdemeanor lawyer and request that the judge set a bond, though the bond will likely be twice the usual amount. Hiring an attorney to help you with a probation violation can extend the amount of time you have to pay a fine, as well as help you reduce or avoid prison time.
Who to Contact If You Have a Misdemeanor in Texas
Texas native Andrew Peveto received a degree in business from Southern Methodist University and his Juris Doctorate from the Dedman School of Law. Considered a top Plano lawyer with a 10/10 rating on AVVO, Andrew Peveto and his team has a longstanding history of strong defense wins for clients accused of a misdemeanor in Texas. Areas of expertise include assault, drug, DWI, public intoxication, underage drinking, theft, and violent crime charges. Contact Peveto Law Office for a free and confidential consultation.
Additional Resources on Consequences of Misdemeanors:
- Texas Tribune – Many Choosing Jail Time Over Probation, https://www.texastribune.org/2010/09/28/many-choosing-jail-time-over-probation/
- National Conference of State Legislatures – Automatically Sealing or Expunging Juvenile Records, http://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and-criminal-justice/automatically-sealing-or-expunging-juvenile-records.aspx