Is a criminal defense lawyer in Houston telling you that Class B Misdemeanor in Texas isn’t a big deal? Anyone who’s either been personally or indirectly involved with the criminal justice system—aka “caught in the system”—knows that a felony charge is major bad news. The bail is higher, the potential consequences are more severe and the damage to your personal reputation may be almost irreparable. But a misdemeanor in Texas? You just pay a fine, do your community service and then life goes on… right?
Not so fast.
Depending on the specific charge and/or your legal background, even being accused of a misdemeanor offense in Texas such as criminal mischief can strip you of some key rights. Before you dismiss your misdemeanor offense as “no big deal,” make sure you understand what’s at stake and know how to defend your freedoms should you find yourself in a bad situation.
Jump to a Section on Misdemeanors in Texas
- Different Types of Misdemeanors in Texas
- Misdemeanors and Your Right to Bear Arms
- Misdemeanors and Your Right to Drive
- Misdemeanors and Visitation Rights
Understanding the different types of misdemeanors in Texas
The law spells out three categories of misdemeanor crimes in Texas, each with their own range of penalties.
Class C Misdemeanors in Texas
You may ask, “What is a Class C Misdemeanor?” Class C Misdemeanors in Texas are the least severe category of Texas misdemeanors.
Class C Misdemeanor examples
Common Class C Misdemeanors include:
- Traffic violations, such as most speeding tickets, but not including parking tickets (parking tickets do not rank as misdemeanors.) Make sure you understand what constitutes an illegal police traffic stop.
- Possession of drug paraphernalia, which could include bongs for smoking marijuana, rolling paper, or even other common items if you knowingly possess the paraphernalia to plant, grow, harvest, test or conceal a controlled substance.
- Disorderly conduct: a wide range of offenses that could include fighting at your kid’s little league game, making threats in school, or even creating “by chemical means, a noxious and unreasonable odor in a public place”
- Theft of property worth less than $50. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § § 12.03, 12.23 for more details.
- Public intoxication: hopefully not the reason for fighting at your kid’s little league game. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 49.02
Class C Misdemeanor penalties & punishment
In Texas, Class C Misdemeanors are often ticketable offenses that can only be punished by a maximum $500 fine. Jail time is generally not a penalty for these kinds of offenses.
However, these will still appear on background checks. Since Class C Misdemeanors can be seen by prospective employers when applying for work, it could erode trust in your work before you even start. (Further reading: Does a misdemeanor affect employment?)
Not every Class C Misdemeanor in Texas first offense would ruin your life at face value. But as we’ll see later in the article, prior convictions could mean consequences even for small charges.
Class B Misdemeanors in Texas
What is a Class B Misdemeanor in Texas, does it mean jail time? The short answer is: maybe. This class of misdemeanor in Texas is more serious: higher fines, and potentially jail time, depending on your case and your lawyer. (See also: “My lawyer is not fighting for me”)
Class B Misdemeanor examples
What is considered a Class B Misdemeanor in Texas? Common Class B Misdemeanors in Texas include some relatively less severe offenses such as criminal trespass. However, a Class B Misdemeanor in Texas can also include DWI and more:
- Criminal trespass: We can guarantee you the dares, hazing, or thrills aren’t worth it. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 30.05.
- Criminal mischief: It’s not Harry Potter, you’ll need a Houston criminal defense Super Lawyer to get your best chance at “mischief managed”. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 12.22 for more details.
- Failure to pay child support: Your best bet is to work with a skilled Houston family law attorney to get child support modification in Texas. Depending on the amount owed and time past due, this offense quickly turns into a felony and can even be prosecuted federally.
- Possession of marijuana (up to two ounces): While efforts to decriminalize and legalize weed in Texas are progressing, hiring a great Houston marijuana attorney is still a make-or-break decision for your reputation.
- First offense DWI in Texas: Houston is crawling DWI task force members ready to put shoddy forensic science to the test. Your best shot at success? A Houston DWI lawyer who beat a quadruple intoxication manslaughter.
Class B Misdemeanor penalties & punishment
What is the range of punishment for a Class B Misdemeanor in Texas? Arrest, fines, and jail time, depending on your case. A Class B offense can result in your arrest upon accusation with maximum penalties of up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000 if convicted.
How serious is a Class B Misdemeanor in Texas? DWI, drug crimes, and child support alone show how dangerous Class B Misdemeanors are to your freedom. These offenses have slippery slopes of second offenses and enhanced charges that can quickly lead to felonies.
Class A Misdemeanors in Texas
If you read this article from the beginning, you won’t have to ask, “Are Class A Misdemeanors in Texas serious?” Simply put, Class A Misdemeanors are serious and have little separation from felonies.
Class A Misdemeanor examples
Common Class A misdemeanors in Texas include:
- Resisting/evading arrest, from Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 38.04
- Assault causing bodily injury, from Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 1.07
- Assault involving a family member, from Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 22.01
- Third offense DWI. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 12.21 for more details.
Class A Misdemeanor penalties & punishment
Class A Misdemeanors in Texas are reserved for the most severe misdemeanor offenses. Even first offenses are punishable by a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $4,000.
After asking, “What is a Class A Misdemeanor in Texas?” Clients often ask, “Can a Class A Misdemeanor be dropped?” Unless you have a top-rated attorney, getting these charges dropped can be difficult. Expungement (expunction) in Texas will also require the best attorney you can afford.
Misdemeanors and your right to bear arms
Gun ownership may be a constitutional right, but even in Texas, that right can be stripped away if you aren’t careful. While most know that convicted felons aren’t legally permitted to own a firearm, the state of Texas can still restrict your second amendment rights for even being accused of certain misdemeanors like DWI, assault or disorderly conduct. (Related reading: “Can you buy a gun with a misdemeanor drug charge?”)
If you are arrested for and legally accused of a Class A or B Misdemeanor, your License to Carry (LTC) will be automatically suspended. This also applies to people accused of a Class C Misdemeanor involving “Disorderly Conduct.” Examples of misbehavior include:
- Public fighting
- Indecent exposure
- Publicly threatening or otherwise abusing people in public
- Behaving in a blatantly offensive way that constitutes a breach of peace
Technically, “creating a noxious odor in public” also qualifies as a Class C Disorderly Conduct offense, but we’ve yet to see someone lose their LTC over a fart!
If either you’re formally acquitted of your charges or they were dropped by the prosecutor, your LTC will be automatically restored. However, if you are convicted or plead your case down through deferred adjudication or deferred disposition, your LTC will be revoked for five full years, at which point you will then be able to reapply.
Misdemeanors and your right to drive
Unlike the right to bear arms, the right to drive a car is not constitutionally granted—this means it can be taken away by the government as they see fit. A person’s driver’s license can be suspended for a range of misdemeanor offenses within the following three main categories.
- Drug Crimes: If you are found guilty of a misdemeanor drug-related offense such as possession, your driver’s license can be suspended for up to 180 days. This suspension can occur regardless of whether or not your car was involved in the crime. In some cases, you may also be required to attend and complete a drug education course before your license can be reinstated. Keep in mind this is valid even if it’s been longer than 180 days since the initial suspension. (Further reading: The Texas Penal Code & Drug Possession)
- DWI: If you are convicted of a DWI in Texas, your driver’s license could be suspended for up to two years. Your license can also be automatically suspended for refusing or failing a roadside sobriety test, requiring you and your lawyer to contest the suspension at an ALR hearing. Additionally, minors convicted of any alcohol-related offenses including possession can be hit with a driver’s license suspension.
- Traffic Violations: If left unpaid or racked up habitually, tickets for Class C Misdemeanors like speeding can result in a suspended driver’s license. Under Texas law, anyone cited for four or more moving traffic violations within a 12-month period or seven or more offenses in a 24-month period is subject to having their license suspended.
And don’t forget: driving on a suspended license is a minimum Class C Misdemeanor in of itself! This offense could result in additional fines, a longer suspension and even arrest.
Misdemeanors and visitation rights
In the state of Texas, a child’s well-being always comes before the wishes of their parents. If you are separated from your spouse and in the midst of a custody dispute, even a misdemeanor can impact your visitation rights as a parent.
Unlike your right to carry a firearm or drive, the range of misdemeanors that can impact your visitation rights isn’t so neatly defined. Because a child’s well-being can be impacted by a wide-range of factors, even the smallest criminal conviction can be used to impact your visitation rights should the judge decide they’re relevant to the child’s well-being. Some of the most common misdemeanor offenses that can limit your ability to see your child include:
- Assault (especially when a family member is involved)
- Drug possession
- Public intoxication
Don’t let a misdemeanor accusation take your rights away
No one should have their rights taken from them based on unfair accusations. If you’ve been arrested and accused of a misdemeanor offense, do not take your situation lightly. Fight back and defend your rights with the help of Super Lawyer Mark Thiessen and his team at the Thiessen Law Firm. We understand how much your rights mean to you and will work hand-in-hand with you along each step of the way to ensure they’re protected.
Get your case off to the right start. Call (713) 903-7096 or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation today!
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