How are Misdemeanors Categorized in Texas?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Samuel E. Bassett with Minton, Bassett, Flores and Carsey.
In Texas, misdemeanors are organized into three different groups. Depending on which category a misdemeanor falls under, the case may need to be heard in the County Courts-at-Law, Municipal Court, or the Justice of the Peace courts. Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, and typically include lesser penalties, such as community service or prison time totaling less than a year. However, despite being less severe than felonies, a misdemeanor will show up in background checks, serving as an obstacle to employment, academic, and even housing opportunities. If you or a loved one are facing a misdemeanor, it’s highly recommended to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your options before going to court.
Misdemeanors fall into one of three categories in Texas, including:
- Class A Misdemeanors: Class A misdemeanors are considered the most serious, and may be punishable by up to one year in jail, and a fine of up to $4,000. Assault, second offense DUIs, and theft of property worth $500-$1500 are all considered Class A misdemeanors. Other common Class A misdemeanors include vehicle burglary and carrying a gun without a permit. These cases are typically heard in county court.
- Class B Misdemeanors: Class B misdemeanors are second in severity to Class A, and may be punishable by up to six months in jail, and a fine of up to $2,000. First-time DUIs, possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, and theft of property worth $50-$500 are a few examples of what is included in this category. These cases are typically heard in county court.
- Class C Misdemeanors: Class C misdemeanors are considered the least severe, but they will still show up on a background check and the penalty may worsen with repeat offenses. Class C misdemeanors are not punishable by jail time, but may be punishable by a fine of up to $500, probation, and community service. This category includes a wide variety of lesser offenses including public intoxication, traffic offenses, minors in possession of alcohol, and disorderly conduct, among other things. These cases are typically heard in municipal court if the offense occurred within city limits, or the Justice of the Peace courts if the offense occurred outside city limits.
A criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate your sentence or clear you if you were wrongly accused.
Whenever you are facing a criminal charge, it’s important to know what your options are. A criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate for a lesser sentence depending on the circumstances of your situation, and an investigation into the arrest process. If you were wrongly charged, a defense attorney may be able to have the charges dropped. Similarly, a defense attorney can give you an idea of when or how the offense can be expunged from your record, and may even be able to help with the process. All of this can help in your return to daily life as you attempt to do things like get a job, a loan, or even pursue higher education.
To learn more about misdemeanors or what to do if you are facing charges, reach out to a criminal defense attorney in your state.