Misdemeanors are the less serious of the two offenses, but they are still punishable by up to one year of county jail time and a minimum fine of $500. Misdemeanor charges are often filed against people accused of DWI, theft, minor drug offenses, and property crimes.
No matter what the misdemeanor is for, a misdemeanor conviction on your record will have negative repercussions for years to come. You’ll want an experienced misdemeanor attorney in Houston representing you. Call the Houston criminal lawyers at the Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free consultation.
Texas Misdemeanor Crimes
Some common examples of Texas misdemeanors are:
- Petty theft, or theft of low-value property
- Minor traffic offenses
- First offense DWIs
- Public intoxication
- Disorderly conduct
- Small-quantity drug crimes
- Writing bad checks
- Criminal trespass
- Leaving a child unattended in an automobile
- Weapons possession
Texas Misdemeanor Classes
Depending on the severity, your misdemeanor convictions and punishments could fall into any of the following classes:
Class A Misdemeanors
The most serious misdemeanor for crimes like burglary of a vehicle and carrying a gun without a permit can result in:
- Up to one year in jail
- A fine of up to $4,000
- Or, both jail and a fine
Class B Misdemeanors
A less significant misdemeanor, reserved for offenses such as carrying two ounces of marijuana, can land you:
- Up to 180 days in jail
- A fine of up to $2,000
- Or, both jail and a fine
Class C Misdemeanors
These are minor misdemeanor charges for relatively benign offenses. For instance, theft of property less than $100 means can result in a fine of up to $500.
Misdemeanors Can Become Felonies
First-time misdemeanors in Texas tend to stay that way. If someone has an otherwise clean record, a judge might not throw the book at them. But, when you repeat the crime or commit more serious ones, courts tend to bump charges into felonies. Also, if you commit multiple misdemeanors at once or aggravating factors are involved, your misdemeanor charge could become a felony.
Living with a Misdemeanor Conviction
While having a misdemeanor on your record is not as bad as having a felony, it could still haunt you.
- Employment – Depending on the job you are applying for, a misdemeanor might disqualify you from employment.
- Driver’s License – You may temporarily lose your driver’s license for some misdemeanors like DWI and be required to install an ignition interlock device. You might also need to complete a drug education course and face a driver’s license suspension or revocation if failed.
- Housing – Some landlords might worry about how you will interact with other tenants and deny your rental application.
- Parenting – A misdemeanor conviction could limit your already-in-place child custody and visitation rights.
- Immigration Status – Foreign nationals face deportation and green card application denial if convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses.
Can Misdemeanors Be Expunged?
Yes, they can. But the court might set specific parameters that need to be followed/completed even after you’ve served your sentence and/or paid your fine. A misdemeanor defense attorney can help with this process.
Does a Misdemeanor Result in Jail?
Not always, but it is easier to avoid time in custody for a misdemeanor than if you were found guilty of a felony. Based on the facts involved, you should discuss with your lawyer if any of the following alternatives are available in your case:
- House arrest
- Diversion programs
But remember, you might still have to plead guilty to a lesser charge to be considered for more lenient penalties.
Do You Need a Lawyer for a Misdemeanor?
It would undoubtedly be in your best interest to hire an attorney.
While a misdemeanor is not a very serious charge, when compared to a felony, state and county prosecutors stake their reputations on how many charges they can turn into convictions. If you try to handle even a misdemeanor shoplifting charge on your own, you are at a significant disadvantage to an experienced prosecutor.
Call a Houston Misdemeanor Lawyer Today
Do not try to fight misdemeanor charges alone. Instead, hire a skilled misdemeanor defense lawyer.
Attorney Ned Barnett has helped many people facing misdemeanors in and around Harris County, Texas. To speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney, contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767.