Misdemeanors are crimes recognized as less serious by the State of Texas. Misdemeanors are punishable by jail time, fines, or community service or a combination of all three. However, one of the defining characteristics of a misdemeanor is that it is usually punishable by no more than one year in the county jail. Texas law recognizes many misdemeanors ranging from traffic offenses, such as driving while intoxicated, to minor theft and drug crimes.
While the punishment for being found guilty of a misdemeanor is generally less severe, the consequences can seriously impact your rights. Aside from the financial burdens, misdemeanors that remain on a defendant’s permanent record can cause you to lose privileges under the law. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney Jose Ceja, of Ceja Law Firm, will use his knowledge of the law to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
Classification of Misdemeanors
Texas statute recognizes three classes of misdemeanors labeled from least serious to most serious as Class C, Class B, and Class A misdemeanors.
Class C Misdemeanors
These crimes are not punishable by a jail sentence. Instead, a court may only sentence a defendant to a fine that may not exceed $500. Examples of Class C Misdemeanors include traffic violations, possession of drug paraphernalia, disorderly conduct, or theft of property valued at less than $50.
Class B Misdemeanors
Class B Misdemeanors are slightly more serious and are punishable by jail time not to exceed 180 days. In addition to jail time, a court may impose a fine of less than $2,000. Examples of Class B Misdemeanors include possession of up to two ounces of marijuana, driving while intoxicated (first offense), criminal trespass, and criminal mischief.
Class A Misdemeanors
Class A Misdemeanors are the most serious classification of misdemeanors and are punishable by up to one year in jail. In addition to jail time, a court may impose a fine of less than $4,000. Examples of Class A Misdemeanors include evading or resisting arrest, assault causing bodily injury, and repetitive driving while intoxicated.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of the common types of misdemeanors recognized by Texas statute:
|Class C Misdemeanors||Class B Misdemeanors||Class A Misdemeanors|
|Theft of property or services valued at $100 or less||Theft of property or services valued between $100 and $750||Theft of property or services valued between $750 and $2,500|
|Making false statements on a credit application resulting in damages of less than $100||Making false statements on a credit application resulting in damages of between $100 and $750||Making false statements on a credit application resulting in damages of between $750 and $2,500|
|Forgery resulting in value of less than $100||Forgery resulting in value of between $100 and $750||Forgery resulting in value of between $750 and $2,500|
|Criminal mischief causing damage of less than $100||Criminal mischief causing damage between $100 and $750||Criminal mischief causing damage between $750 and $2,500|
|Graffiti causing damage less than $100||Graffiti causing damage between $100 and $750||Graffiti causing damage between $750 and $2,500|
|Simple assault||Enticing a child from parental custody||Assault causing bodily injury|
|Trespassing on, tampering with, obstructing, or derailing railroad property||Throwing an object or shooting at a train||Violating an order of protection|
|Leaving a child under 7 alone in a vehicle||Driving while intoxicated (first offense)||Burglary from a vehicle|
|Damage or destruction of property||Unauthorized acquisition of private financial data||Stealing a blank check|
|Criminal trespass||Prostitution/Solicitation||Altering serial numbers on goods|
Consequences in Addition to Jail Time or Fines
Eligibility for a License to Carry Handgun
Texas statute allows all residents to apply for a license to carry a handgun. However, a resident may become ineligible to carry a handgun if he or she is charged with a Class A or Class B Misdemeanor. Being charged with a Class A or B Misdemeanor results in an automatic suspension of a license to carry a handgun. Additionally, a license to carry a handgun will also be suspended if charged with a Class C Misdemeanor involving disorderly conduct, such as causing a public disturbance, making threats in a public place, or public fighting.
Suspension of Driver’s License
A conviction of certain misdemeanors such as evading arrest or detention, driving while intoxicated, use of a fake ID, and certain drug offenses are grounds for the automatic suspension of driving privileges in Texas.
Child Custody Arrangements
In Texas family court, the standard for determining whether a parent receives custody and visitation rights to children is the “best interest of the child” standard. If you are in the process of determining child custody or visitation, a conviction for a misdemeanor may impact your rights. Courts may consider the impact of misdemeanor criminal charges such as charges stemming from domestic violence, driving while intoxicated, drug possession, or solicitation on the child. Charges such as these play a role in the court’s decision of whether being placed in your home is in the child’s best interest. Even if you already have custody or visitation rights, upon learning of misdemeanor criminal activity, the co-parent may move to modify the custody or visitation arrangement based on changed circumstances affecting the child’s welfare.
Contact Ceja Law Firm Today
Attorney Jose Ceja understands that one mistake, even a small one, should not derail your life. The Ceja Law Firm works tirelessly to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Attorney Ceja has a proven track record of assisting people charged with misdemeanors and will evaluate the consequences of a misdemeanor beyond a criminal conviction and mount an appropriate defense. If you are charged with a misdemeanor contact Ceja Law Firm today.