Everything You Need to Know about Misdemeanors in Texas
If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor in Texas, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of the state’s criminal justice system. Misdemeanors are typically less serious than felonies, but they can still come with significant penalties, especially for some type of assault charges.
Cole Paschall Law will run you through everything you need to know about misdemeanors in Texas, from the types of charges you could face to how a defense attorney can help you.
What Is a Misdemeanor? How Is It Different from a Felony?
In Texas, a misdemeanor is defined as a crime that is punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. By contrast, a felony is a more serious offense that is punishable by more than one year in state prison and/or a fine of more than $10,000.
Common Misdemeanor Classes (and What They Mean)
Before we jump into discussing some of the most common misdemeanor charges in Texas, it’s important to understand the different classes of misdemeanors. In Texas, there are three classifications for misdemeanors: Class A, Class B, and Class C.
1. Class A
Class A misdemeanors are the most serious type of misdemeanor. They are punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. Examples of Class A misdemeanors include driving while intoxicated (DWI) and assault.
This classification of misdemeanor also extends to first-time offenders of certain low-level felonies. For example, if you are convicted of a Class C felony but it is your first offense, you will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
2. Class B
Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to 180 days in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. Common examples of Class B misdemeanors include possession of marijuana and theft of property valued at less than $100.
Some cases like public intoxication and disorderly conduct may be punishable by either a Class B misdemeanor or a Class C misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.
3. Class C
Class C misdemeanors are the least serious type of misdemeanor. They are punishable by a fine of up to $500. Some common examples of Class C misdemeanors include minors in possession of alcohol and driving with an expired license.
Like Class B misdemeanors, some cases like disorderly conduct and public intoxication can be Class C misdemeanors or higher depending on the circumstances.
Hiring the Best Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Worth
Examples of Misdemeanors
As we mentioned, there are many different types of misdemeanors in Texas. Here are just a few examples:
An assault charge is a misdemeanor in the state of Texas if it is classified as a Class A, B, or C offense. Simple assault is typically charged as a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500. However, if the assault is against a family member, roommate, or dating partner, it can be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor assault. Aggravated assault involving a deadly weapon is also a Class A misdemeanor.
Some specific examples are assault by threat, assault causing serious bodily injury, and aggravated assault crimes. Aggravated sexual assault, which is a type of sexual assault that involves additional factors such as the use of a deadly weapon, can also be charged as a misdemeanor.
Other types of assault include deadly conduct, which is when someone discharges a firearm in a public place; family violence; and terroristic threat, which is when someone threatens to commit a crime of violence.
There is also some type of assault charges, such as deadly conduct and family violence, that can be enhanced to a felony if the offender has certain prior convictions.
2. Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
This offense can range from a Class B misdemeanor to a felony, depending on factors like your blood alcohol content (BAC) level and whether you have any prior DWI convictions.
Some situations like driving with a BAC of .08% or higher, driving while intoxicated with a child passenger, and intoxication assault will result in a Class B misdemeanor DWI charge. If you have one prior DWI conviction, your offense will be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor.
Theft offenses can range from shoplifting to identity theft and are typically classified as either misdemeanors or felonies depending on the value of the property stolen.
Theft that can cause serious bodily harm to another person is always classified as a felony, regardless of the value of the property stolen.
4. Public Intoxication
This offense is usually classified as a Class C misdemeanor, but it can be upgraded to a Class B misdemeanor if you become disruptive or cause danger to yourself or others. Specific examples of this are public urination, disorderly conduct, and being a minor in possession of alcohol.
5. Criminal Mischief
Criminal mischief is when someone intentionally or knowingly damages another person’s property without their consent. This offense covers a wide range of property crimes like vandalism, graffiti, and damaging someone else’s property. The severity of the offense will typically determine whether it is classified as a misdemeanor or felony.
If you face this type of charge, it is important to have a qualified criminal defense lawyer from the best law firm on your side to help you navigate the legal system, especially when you are found with a deadly weapon where assault charges might be dropped.
6. Criminal Trespass
This offense can range from trespassing on someone’s property to breaking into their home or car. The classification will depend on the type of property involved and the severity of the offense.
Some specific examples of criminal trespass are trespassing on a construction site, entering someone’s home without their consent, and damaging someone’s property.
7. Probation Violation
If you are on probation for a misdemeanor offense and you violate the terms of your probation, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. The type of probation violation will determine the classification of the offense.
Some specific examples of probation violations are failing to report to your probation officer, leaving the state without permission, and being arrested for another crime.
Partnering with a Defense Attorney for Your Misdemeanor Case
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, it is important to partner with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.
At Cole Paschall Law, our team of Fort Worth criminal defense lawyers has experience handling all types of misdemeanor cases, from assault and DWI to theft and public intoxication. We will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome in your case.
We also offer different services for those who need a defense attorney for a family violence case or anyone who is looking for a lawyer that specializes in probation violations.
We build a strong attorney-client relationship by providing straightforward answers to all of your questions and keeping you updated throughout every step of your case. Don’t let a misdemeanor charge ruin your life. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
Penalties for Theft Convictions in Texas
No matter what type of misdemeanor you are facing, it is important to understand the possible penalties and how to best defend yourself against the charges. Here are the potential penalties for some of the most common misdemeanor offenses in Texas:
1. Third-Degree Felony Theft Offenses
Penalties that fall under this category are generally punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. This type of penalty also applies to some first-degree felonies.
This type of penalty is typically given to those who have stolen property worth more than $2,500 but less than $30,000. The type of property that was stolen will also affect the penalty.
2. Second-Degree Theft Offenses
If you are facing a second-degree theft offense in Texas, then you could be facing anywhere from 2 to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Second-degree theft offenses include burglary of a habitation, vehicle, or place of business.
Facing this kind of charge can be stressful, which is why it is important to have a qualified criminal defense lawyer on your side.
3. First-Degree Grand Theft Penalties
First-degree grand theft is when the value of the property stolen is over $200,000. The penalties for this type of theft are punishable by 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
It is important to take note that the penalties for grand theft are harsher than the penalties for other types of misdemeanor offenses. This is because grand theft is considered a serious felony offense in Texas. But just like an assault charge, the penalties for grand theft depend on the type and value of the property stolen.
4. Intoxication Assault Penalties
Intoxication assault is a type of third-degree felony that can result in 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
When facing this kind of charge, you must find criminal defense lawyers who have experience with intoxication assault cases. This type of charge is serious and can result in harsh penalties, which is why it is important to have an attorney who knows how to aggressively defend your case.
5. Driving While License Invalid Penalties
Driving with a suspended or revoked license is a type of misdemeanor offense that can result in a fine of up to $500. If you are facing this type of charge, it is important to contact a qualified Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer who can help you fight the charges.
You must also make sure that you do not drive with a suspended or revoked license again, as this could result in more serious penalties, including jail time.
What is the penalty for theft in Texas?
The penalties for theft in Texas depend on the type and value of the property stolen. For example, third-degree felony theft is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
You must make sure that you understand the type of misdemeanor you are facing and the possible penalties before you can decide how to best defend yourself.
Can a misdemeanor theft be expunged in Texas?
Yes, in some cases a misdemeanor theft can be expunged in Texas. The process of expungement is complicated and you will need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you navigate the process.
But first, you must make sure that you are eligible for expungement. To be eligible, you must have completed your probationary period and not been convicted of any other crimes. You must also wait at least two years from the date of your arrest to apply for expungement.
How can I drop theft charges in Texas?
Theft charges in Texas can only be dropped by the prosecutor. If you have been charged with theft, you will need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf.
Just like an aggravated assault charge, the prosecutor will consider the type and value of the property stolen when deciding whether or not to drop the charges. They will also take into account your criminal history and any mitigating factors that may be present in your case. Having the best law firm by your side will give you the best chance of having the charges against you dropped.
What is the lowest misdemeanor in Texas?
The lowest type of misdemeanor in Texas is a Class C misdemeanor. This type of misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $500. This type of misdemeanor includes the act of driving while your license is invalid, harassment, and some first-time DWI offenses.
While the penalties for a Class C misdemeanor are not as severe as those for other types of misdemeanors, it is still important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth if you have been charged with this type of offense.
How much does a misdemeanor affect your life?
A misdemeanor can have a significant impact on your life. A misdemeanor conviction can result in jail time, a fine, or both. It can also lead to a criminal record, which can make it difficult to find employment or housing.
If you are facing a misdemeanor charge, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth who can help you fight the charges. Having an attorney by your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.