Crimes in the state of Texas are typically classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Felony offenses are typically more serious, but even misdemeanor offenses carry significant penalties, including jail time and high fines. These offenses still constitute a criminal offense that will be on your record and can cause you significant hardship in your life. When you face a misdemeanor charge in Texas, it is critical that you put up a strong defense to protect your constitutional rights.
Misdemeanor criminal charges should be handled by an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands how serious these charges can be. If you or a family member is facing misdemeanor criminal charges in Texas, contact an Odessa criminal lawyer to understand your rights and fight a criminal conviction.
Odessa, Texas Misdemeanor Lawyer
E. Jason Leach focuses exclusively on criminal defense law and has been doing so for over a decade. Since 2005, he has worked tirelessly to protect the rights of those accused of crimes. He is a Texas board-certified expert in criminal defense and believes that all clients are entitled to the most vigorous defense possible.
People accused of a crime have constitutional rights that deserve to be protected. A criminal conviction can place an incredibly heavy burden on your life, but you do not have to simply accept the charges against you. You can fight back and work to avoid the difficulties of a criminal conviction. With the right help at your side, you can move forward confident that your rights are protected.
Misdemeanor Classification in Texas
A "misdemeanor" in Texas is defined as a criminal charge that carries a potential jail sentence of less than one year. Texas misdemeanors are classified into one of three different categories: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Each carries its own punishment ranges, ranging from more serious to less serious.
Class A Misdemeanor
Up to one year in jail
Max fine of up to $4,000
Class B Misdemeanor
Up to 180 days in jail
Max fine of up to $2,000
Class C Misdemeanor
None (fine only)
Max fine of up to $500
While much less serious than a potential felony charge, a misdemeanor conviction can still cost you a great deal of money and time spent in jail. This can result in job loss, financial hardship, and loss of your freedom.
Examples of Misdemeanors in Texas
A few examples of crimes in the different felony classifications include, but is not limited to:
Class A Misdemeanor:
- Evading Arrest on Foot,
- Assault with Bodily Injury,
- Cruelty to Animals,
- DWI (second offense),
- Violation of Protective Order
Class B Misdemeanor:
- Criminal Trespass
- Indecent Exposure
- Possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana
Class C Misdemeanor:
- Assault by Threat
- Disorderly Conduct
- Public Intoxication
- Use of Laser Pointers
- Minor in Possession of alcohol
- Leaving Child in a Vehicle
Collateral Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction
The specific jail sentences and fines are not the only consequences you will face if convicted of a misdemeanor in Texas. These can last much longer than one year, including for the rest of your life. A misdemeanor conviction is on your record and can affect your ability to go to certain schools, obtain housing, and significantly affect the types of jobs that are available to you.
You could lose access to certain licenses or have one revoked or suspended under Texas Occupations Code Section 53.021. This could include doctors, lawyers, teachers, and many others who need a license to work in their chosen profession. A misdemeanor conviction could derail an otherwise successful career.
Offenses of family violence can result in a loss of your right to own a firearm, even when your offense does not rise to the level of a felony. The loss of your Second Amendment right may be important to you, but a conviction could strip you of that right.
Use of Plea Bargains in Misdemeanor Cases
Misdemeanors are commonly used as pleas from felony-level charges. It is still possible to plea down from a misdemeanor charge, especially when that charge is for a Class A or Class B Misdemeanor. With the help of an experienced criminal attorney at your side, you can negotiate a reduction in the level of charge down to a Class C misdemeanor, preventing the possibility of a jail sentence and even reducing the amount of fine you may have to pay. This can have a major and positive impact on your life.
Multiple Misdemeanors and Increased Penalties in Texas
Depending on the misdemeanor charge, a prior history of crimes can result in increased penalties for this new charge. This typically occurs when multiple of the same type of offense is in a person's criminal history. When this occurs, the misdemeanor class can be enhanced to a higher degree, or it could even raise what is otherwise a misdemeanor into a felony classification range. If this is the case, the penalties significantly worsen as a felony charge can result in many years in prison, higher fines, and the label of "felon" that can haunt you for the rest of your life.
One example of this is with a Texas DWI charge. A first-time DWI is charged as a Class B misdemeanor. A second charge is charged as a Class A misdemeanor. A third or subsequent charge jumps up to a third-degree felony, seriously increasing the range of penalties you could face and greatly increasing the collateral consequences.
To prevent multiple convictions from adding up in this way, it is critical you work with a highly experienced criminal defense lawyer to protect yourself from this situation.
Consult an Experienced Odessa Misdemeanor Lawyer
If you or someone you care about want is charged with a misdemeanor charge in Odessa, TX or the surrounding areas, you need a knowledgeable, experienced attorney to fight for your constitutional rights.
You have the right to fight back against these charges. The Law Office of E. Jason Leach, PLLC is ready to help you defend your case. To set up a free consultation, contact the Law Office of E. Jason Leach today at (432) 552-7000.