The Lone Star State takes a tough approach to crime, and that’s evident when you look at the penalties for misdemeanors in Texas. While a judge sets the final penalty for your conviction, there are parameters that they must work within. Different degrees of misdemeanors have different sentencing guidelines.
A skilled San Marcos criminal defense attorney can help you if you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor in Texas. They can explain the potential consequences of the charge and fight for the best possible outcome in your situation.
What Are Misdemeanor Crimes in Texas?
Texas classifies crimes into two categories depending on the seriousness of the offense. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes; felonies are more serious crimes. Some common types of misdemeanor crimes in Texas include:
- Assault causing bodily injury
- Possession of up to two ounces of marijuana
- Criminal mischief causing damage less than $750
- Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI)
- Property theft of under $750
- Disorderly conduct
- Evading arrest
- Public intoxication
These aren’t the only misdemeanor crimes in Texas. Furthermore, the same offense may carry stiffer or lesser penalties, depending on the situation and whether it’s your first offense or a subsequent one. You could face federal misdemeanor charges if you commit a misdemeanor on federal property.
Penalties for Misdemeanors in Texas
Texas classifies misdemeanors into lettered classes, with Class C being the least serious offense and Class A as the most serious. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, your penalties can include:
- Class C Misdemeanor: Fines of up to $500 but no jail time
- Class B Misdemeanor: Fines of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail
- Class A Misdemeanor: Fines of up to $4,000 and a jail sentence of up to one year
The consequences of being convicted of a misdemeanor go beyond hurting your wallet or losing your freedom.
Penalties for a Misdemeanor Go Beyond Fines and Jail Time
Fines and jail time are the most obvious consequences of a misdemeanor charge in Texas. But your future could be affected in other ways, too.
- Permanent criminal record. In some (limited) situations, you may be able to have your record sealed or expunged if your case qualifies. If you can’t, though, even a Class C misdemeanor offense could preclude you from getting hired in certain positions, like jobs requiring driving or a professional license. A criminal record could affect your ability to find housing.
- Losing certain rights, like the right to vote or owning a firearm. If your conviction has a penalty that lasts more than two years, you can’t purchase a firearm in Texas. If you’re charged with misdemeanor DWI, you can’t legally carry a handgun while the charges are pending.
- Serving probation. Even if you don’t go to jail, your freedom may still be curtailed with probation. Being on probation means the court can limit where you go and what you do, like having a drink in a bar or going to a casino.
- Jeopardizing your immigration status. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, you may be deported or have a visa or green card application denied.
You could face a loss of reputation in your community or among your professional peers. Certain crimes, like drug possession or DUI, carry a social stigma, too.
Mitigating Circumstances in Texas Misdemeanor Cases
In certain situations, your attorney may argue for a lighter sentence or a deferred prosecution. If your case has certain mitigating factors, then a judge may consider the totality of the situation when sentencing you. Whether mitigating circumstances apply in your case can vary from one jurisdiction to the next and from judge to judge.
Mitigating factors for a Texas criminal misdemeanor defendant may include:
- Whether they were coerced to act or under considerable duress
- How old the defendant was at the time of the crime
- The defendant played a very small role in the crime
Your attorney may present other factors that could mitigate your sentence and petition the judge to consider them.
There are additional mitigating factors a judge could consider when sentencing you to a misdemeanor. These are less about the crime and more about your overall character and reputation in the community.
For example, a judge could consider:
- Work history or career. Are you a teacher, social worker, or in a role that betters the lives of others?
- Cognitive limitations that keep you from fully appreciating your actions
- Visible, sincere remorse for your actions
- Lack of criminal history
- History of abuse, anxiety, or PTSD
- Military status and any commendations or decorations for service
- Whether a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) affected your judgment or personality
Aggravating Circumstances for Texas Misdemeanor Charges
An aggravating factor in a misdemeanor case makes your situation look worse. That is, a judge may look at the sentencing guidelines on a spectrum, but due to certain factors in the case, may decide that you deserve the maximum penalty the law allows.
Some aggravating factors that could impact the severity of your misdemeanor sentencing include:
- How vulnerable was the victim? For example, crimes committed against a child or a senior may appear more egregious.
- Were you the ringleader in the crime?
- Are you a repeat offender?
- Is what you did classified as a “hate crime”?
- Did the crime include a deadly weapon?
A skilled criminal defense lawyer could work to mitigate any aggravating factors that exist in your case.
Do You Need a San Marcos Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Have you been arrested for or charged with a misdemeanor in Texas? You could face years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines. An experienced criminal defense lawyer from The Law Office of Case J. Darwin Inc. can advocate for you in court or negotiate with the prosecutor for a lighter sentence. We can protect your rights and support your interests.
Let us get to work for you today. Get started today by booking a consultation with our legal team or filling out our online contact form.