Misdemeanors are the less serious of the two classes of criminal offenses. They are broken into three levels. The lowest level is a “class C” misdemeanor and it is commonly thought of as a traffic ticket. While Anderson Legal Group does not generally represent clients with traffic tickets, we frequently have more serious criminal charges reduced.
The second level is a “class B” misdemeanor. It is commonly thought of as a first DWI. The punishment range for this offense is up to six months in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $2,000.00.
The highest level is known as a “class A” misdemeanor. A common offense under this level would be the unlawful carrying of a weapon (UCW) or a second DWI. The punishment range for this offense is up to one year in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $4,000.00.
This cursory overview is only to provide you with a quick reference as to what the maximum sentence is that the law will generally allow for each class of misdemeanor offense. However, there are other circumstances that play a factor for possibly elevating these offenses to a higher category.
“Misdemeanor” means an offense so designated by law or punishable by fine, by confinement in jail, or by both fine and confinement in jail. A misdemeanor is the less serious of Texas’ two criminal designations.
Texas places misdemeanors into the three following categories, in decreasing order of severity:
Class A: most serious misdemeanor
Punishable by a fine of up to $4,000.00 and/or up to imprisonment for up to one year (mandatory minimum of six months’ jail time if a controlled substance is used in the commission of the crime)
Ex: Assault; Second offense DWI; Possession of two to four ounces of marijuana; Perjury
Class B: less serious than Class A, more serious than Class C
Punishable by a fine of up to $2,000.00 and/or imprisonment for up to six months
Ex: First offense DWI; Possession of up to two ounces of marijuana; Indecent exposure; Failure to pay child support
Class C: least serious misdemeanor
Punishable by a fine of up to $500.00. Class C misdemeanors are also known as “fine–only” misdemeanors, as a conviction does not carry the possibility of jail time.
Ex: Speeding ticket; Criminal mischief; Possession of drug paraphernalia; Theft of less than $100.00
(Texas Penal Code Sections 12.03, 12.21-23)
Specific crimes fall into one of these categories, but certain facts can shift the crime into a more or less serious category (for example, the same crime may be a higher degree felony if it was committed against a child, or instead may be a lower degree felony if it was committed unintentionally). A criminal defense attorney may use the presence or absence of certain facts or evidence to argue that the charge should be a lower degree felony or misdemeanor than what was originally charged.
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, please contact us so that Mr. Anderson might be able to assist you in determining your options.