In Texas, there are two types of classifications of crimes: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanor crimes are punishable by fines and a stint in the local jail, while felonies carry prison sentences. Even though felonies are more serious, misdemeanors can definitely reek havoc on your life and livelihood. That’s why it’s important to contact a Fort Worth misdemeanor lawyer if you have been accused of committing any type of misdemeanor offense.
At Varghese Summersett, we aggressively defend people accused of both misdemeanor and felony crimes in North Texas. If you or a loved one is facing any charge, call today to speak to an experienced lawyer to find out how we can help you.
Below are some answers to some frequently asked questions regarding misdemeanors in Texas
How are Misdemeanors Classified in Texas?
Misdemeanor offenses fall into one of three categories in Texas: Class C, Class B or Class A. They are punishable by:
Class C – a maximum $500 fine.
Class B – up to 180 days in the county jail and a maximum $2,000 fine
Class A – up to a year in the county jail and a maximum $4,000 fine
What are Examples of Misdemeanor Offenses in Texas?
This is not an exhaustive list, but misdemeanor offenses in Texas include:
- Boating While Intoxicated
- Burglary of a Coin Operating Machine
- Burglary of a Vehicle
- Criminal Mischief
- Criminal Trespass
- Cruelty to Animals
- Deadly Conduct
- Delivery of Marijuana
- Discharge of Firearm in Certain Municipalities
- Disorderly Conduct
- Drug-Free Zones
- DWI & DUI
- Electronic Transmission of Certain Visual Material Depicting a Minor
- Enticing a Child
- False Alarm or Report
- Falsification of Drug Test Results
- Harboring Runaway Child
- Hoax Bombs
- Indecent Exposure
- Interference with Emergency Telephone Calls
- Keeping a Gambling Place
- Leaving a Child in a Vehicle
- Obscene Display or Distribution
- Obstructing Highway or Other Passageway
- Online Impersonation
- Organized Retail Theft
- Public Lewdness
- Theft of Service
- Terrorist Threat
- Unlawful Carrying of Handgun by License Holder
- Unlawful Carrying Weapons
- Violation of Protective Order
What is a Class A Misdemeanor?
A Class A misdemeanor is the most serious type of misdemeanor offense in Texas. It is punishable by up to one year in county jail and up to a $4,000 fine. A Class A misdemeanor can be enhanced based on a prior Class A or greater conviction, which makes the charge punishable by confinement from 90 days up to one year in jail. It does not matter how old a prior adult offense is, it can still be used for enhancement.
Common Class A Misdemeanors in Fort Worth include:
- Assault Causing Bodily Injury
- Assault Causing Bodily Injury – Family Member
- Driving While Intoxicated Misdemeanor Repetition
- Driving While Intoxicated BAC >/= .15
- Evading Arrest
- Theft 750-2500
- Resisting Arrest
Can You Get Probation for a Class A Misdemeanor?
Probation and deferred adjudication may be options for individuals charged with a Class A misdemeanor. A person charged with a Class A misdemeanor can be placed on probation or deferred for an initial term of up to two years.
Deferred adjudication is not available for certain Class A misdemeanors, such as Driving While Intoxicated – Misdemeanor Repetition and DWI BAC >/= .15.
There are occasionally diversion programs available for individuals charged with Class A misdemeanors. Additionally, there are some cases where we can negotiate a dismissal of the charges, and there are certainly cases where we’ve gone to trial to secure acquittals for our clients.
Collateral Consequence of a Class A Conviction
If you have been convicted of or received deferred adjudication probation for a Class A misdemeanor in Fort Worth, you will be prohibited from having a License to Carry for a period of five years. Other collateral consequences include:
- Future misdemeanor charges will be enhanced.
- You may lose your ability to own or transport weapons or ammunition.
- A conviction may make you ineligible to hold certain professional licenses.
- Your current employment may be jeopardized.
- You may lose future job opportunities.
- You may become ineligible for state or local assistance.
What is a Class B Misdemeanor in Fort Worth?
A Class B misdemeanor in Fort Worth is an offense that is punishable by up to six months in jail. A Class B misdemeanor can be enhanced with a prior Class B or higher conviction. An enhanced Class B misdemeanor is punishable by a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of 180 days in county jail.
Common Class B misdemeanors include:
- Criminal Mischief $100-$750
- Criminal Trespass
- Driving While Intoxicated
- Driving While Intoxicated-Open Container
- Theft $100-$750
- Possession of Marijuana under 2 Ounces
If you are convicted of a Class B misdemeanor in Texas, you will be prohibited from having a License to Carry for a period of five years. Certain Class B misdemeanors may affect your ability to retain custody of your children. Similarly, convictions for crimes of moral turpitude – such as theft – may make you ineligible to vote, sit on a jury, and could hinder your ability to get a job. A conviction for a Class B amount of marijuana will result in a driver’s license suspension of up to one year.
Can You Get Probation for Class B Misdemeanors?
Probation and deferred adjudication may be options for individuals charged with a Class B misdemeanor. Deferred adjudication is not available for certain Class B misdemeanors, such as Driving While Intoxicated.
There are occasionally diversion programs available for individuals charged with Class B misdemeanors. Additionally, there are some cases where we can negotiate a dismissal of the charges, and we have certainly secured acquittals for our clients charged with Class B misdemeanors.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Class B Misdemeanors?
The statute of limitations for a Class B Misdemeanor is two years in Texas. If you believe a misdemeanor offense may be barred by the passage of time, contact one of our attorneys in Fort Worth as soon as possible. There are a number of ways the statute of limitations may have been tolled.
What is a Class C Misdemeanor?
A Class C misdemeanor is the lowest level of criminal offense in Texas. It is punishable by a fine only. The maximum penalty for a Class C misdemeanor is $500. Jail time is not possible as punishment for a Class C misdemeanor in Texas, however, an officer may arrest you for most Class C offenses – other than speeding, texting while driving and an open container violation.
While that may seem counterintuitive and unfair, the issue made its way all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, and the Court affirmed the right for officers to arrest for most Class C offenses in Texas. See Atwater v. City of Lago Vista, 532 U.S. 318, 319 (2001). Again, you cannot be arrested for a Class C speeding offense, texting while driving, and an open container violation. It is misconduct for an officer to arrest solely on the basis of these offenses.
It’s important to understand that if you decided to just pay a Class C citation, that will result in a conviction on your record. That’s why it’s probably worthwhile to hire an attorney in Fort Worth to represent you to ensure that the Class C offense, such as assault by contact or public intoxication is resolved in a manner that allows for an expunction. Most jurisdictions will not object to an expunction on a Class C misdemeanor immediately upon dismissal.
Common Class C misdemeanors in Texas include:
- Public Intoxication
- Assault by Contact
- Driving Under the Influence
Do I Need an Attorney for a Class C Ticket in Texas?
While we generally leave Class C matters to “ticket attorneys,” every year we handle a handful of Class C charges in the North Texas area for individuals who are not concerned about the potential of the $500 fine but are concerned about keeping the matter off their record.
Handled correctly, a criminal defense attorney may be able to get a Class C citation dismissed and ultimately expunged. This entire process may cost $3,500-$5,000 so it is not for everyone. University students, professionals, and individuals who have a specific career or licensing goal may find hiring a misdemeanor lawyer in Fort Worth a worthwhile endeavor.
Contact a Fort Worth Misdemeanor Defense Attorney for Help
Good people make mistakes. We see it every day. Don’t let a mistake or misunderstanding mess up your future. If you or a loved one is facing a misdemeanor charge, reach out to an experienced Fort Worth misdemeanor lawyer today. Our team has handled thousands of misdemeanor cases and have the skill and experience to help you obtain a favorable outcome so you can put this behind you and move on with your life.