In Texas, crimes are divided into certain categories which determine both the jurisdiction as to where the crime will be heard as well as the available range of punishment. The biggest distinction is between felony crimes and misdemeanor crimes. Misdemeanor crimes can be of the Class A, B, or C variety. Class C misdemeanors are handled at the Municipal level while Class A and B Misdemeanors are handled at the County level, with a few exceptions.
The standard range of punishment for Misdemeanor crimes is as follows:
Class C: Punishable by fine only, up to $500.00
Class B: Punishable by 0-180 days in jail and up to a $2,000.00 fine
Class A: Punishable by 0-1 year in jail and up to a $4,000.00 fine
Misdemeanor Crimes include:
Theft, Driving While Intoxicated, Assault, Assault of a Family Member, Possession of Marijuana, Criminal Mischief, Burglary of a Vehicle, Evading Arrest, Resisting Arrest, and Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon.
Some Misdemeanor crimes may have special ranges of punishment. For example, on a 1st time Driving While Intoxicated conviction it carries a minimum 3 days in jail. There can also be other instances where past criminal history can enhance the range of punishment to a minimum 30 days in jail on a Class B Misdemeanor and a minimum 90 days in jail on a Class A Misdemeanor. Community Supervision may be available in Misdemeanor cases.
COMMUNITY SUPERVISION: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROBATION AND DEFERRED ADJUDICATION.
There are two types of Community Supervision in Texas, Straight Probation and Deferred Adjudication. The maximum amount of time a person may be placed on Community Supervision for a Misdemeanor is two years. Straight Probation is available from a judge or a jury, but only a judge can give someone Deferred Adjudication. The difference in the two is discussed below.
PROBATION: If an individual is sentenced to probation that means they are finally convicted of the crime and sentenced to a jail term, however that jail term is probated for a period of time. For example, if someone is convicted of a Class B Misdemeanor and sentenced to 90 days probated for two years, that means the court has suspended the sentence and that person is placed on community supervision where they have to follow the rules set out by the court. If they successfully complete the terms of their supervision, they will not have to serve the 90 days in jail. However, if they do not successfully complete the terms then they could have their supervision revoked and be sentenced to jail. But it is important to note that since the original sentence was 90 days that would now be the maximum amount of time they could serve in jail. NOTE: THIS IS A FINAL CONVICTION AND WILL GO ON YOUR RECORD.
DEFERRED ADJUDICATION: If an individual is given Deferred Adjudication it means that they have pled guilty or no contest to a crime, and the judge has accepted that plea. However the judge has deferred a finding of guilt and placed that person on community supervision for a period of time not to exceed two years. If that person successfully completes the term of supervision the case is dismissed and not a final conviction. However, if the person does not successfully complete the supervision, the judge can then find them guilty of the crime and sentence them anywhere in the applicable punishment range. So for a Class B Misdemeanor the judge could sentence up to 180 days and for a Class A Misdemeanor, up to 1 year.
In most cases if a person successfully completes Deferred Adjudication, that person can later apply to the court to have that Deferred Adjudication, sealed up or “non-disclosed” on their record. It is important to note that this does not happen automatically. If you believe you are eligible for a non-disclosure please contact our office and we would be glad to assist you.
There are several Misdemeanor crimes that have other negative results beyond just the conviction. Below is a discussion of some of the more common Misdemeanor crimes and their impact.
THEFT: Texas Penal Code Sec. 31.03
A person commits an offense if he unlawfully appropriates property with the intent to deprive the owner of property.
In Texas, a person can be charged with theft in a multitude of ways including, stealing someone’s property, knowingly possessing stolen property, not paying for a service provided, or even knowingly writing a hot check.
The applicable punishment range for theft is determined by the value of the item or items taken, with a few exceptions. In 2015, the Texas Legislature made a significant change to this statute by raising the values for each punishment range.
The following table is the range of punishments for theft in Texas as of September 1st, 2015:
Under $100- Class C Misdemeanor
$100-$750- Class B Misdemeanor
$750-$2,500- Class A Misdemeanor
$2,500-$30,000- State Jail Felony
$30,000-$150,000- 3rd Degree Felony
$150,000- $300,000- 2nd Degree Felony
Over $300,000- 1st Degree Felony
The degree of punishment may be changed under certain circumstances. For example, if the theft is from an elderly person is automatically raises the punishment range by one degree. Theft of a firearm or theft from a person is a state jail felony even in the property taken is less than $2,500. Theft also has a cumulative effect meaning if someone has previously been convicted twice of the theft, than any subsequent theft will be at least a state jail felony. Another important thing to note is theft is a crime of moral turpitude which carries a significant impact going forward.
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED: Texas Penal Code Sec 49.04
A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place
Driving While Intoxicated, or DWI, is a common crime in Texas and it carries many significant consequences along with it. In Texas intoxication is defined as:
Not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body OR
Having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher
The range of punishment on Driving While Intoxicated varies based upon the circumstances as evidence by the chart below:
Driving While Intoxicated- 3-180 days in jail and up to a $2,000.00 fine
Driving While Intoxicated with an Open Container- 6-180 days in jail and up to a $2,000.00 fine
Driving While Intoxicated with a BAC Over .15%- 0-1 year in jail and up to a $4,000.00 fine
Driving While Intoxicated with a Prior Conviction- 30 days- 1year in jail and up to a $4,000.00 fine
Driving While Intoxicated with a Child Under 15 in the car- State jail Felony punishable by 6 months to 2 years in the State jail and up to a $5,000.00 fine
Driving While Intoxicated with 2 Prior Convictions- 3rd Degree Felony punishable by 2-10 years in the Texas Department of Corrections and up to a $10,000.00 fine.
Driving While Intoxicated also carries other consequences with it. For instance, immediately upon arrest the State of Texas can administratively suspend your Driver’s License. A judge can also order an additional Driver’s License suspension at the time of conviction. A person convicted of a DWI will also have to pay surcharges to the State of Texas to get their license back. Furthermore, Deferred Adjudication is NOT AVAILABLE for DWI offenses. So whether you get probation or go to jail, it is a final conviction. If you have been arrested or charged with a DWI please don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.
ASSAULT FAMILY VIOLENCE:
Family violence is a very common crime in Texas, that also carries significant consequences along with it. If someone is charged with Assault causing Bodily Injury it is a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by 0-1 year in jail and up to a $4,000.00 fine. However if the victim in the case is a family member it changes the nature of the case and, depending on the circumstances, cam become a far more serious crime.
Section 71 of the Texas Family Code defines what type of victim can be a victim of Family Violence. It includes:
DATING VIOLENCE: Dating violence is defined in Sec 71.0021 of the Texas Family Code. It includes an assault against a victim with whom the actor has or has had a dating relationship with, or a victim who is dating or married to an individual the actor has or has had a dating relationship or marriage. A dating relationship is defined as a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. Under this provision, if the actor is dating or has previously dated the victim, then the case can qualify as a Family Violence offense
FAMILY MEMBER: Section 71.003 of the Texas Family Code defines family members. It includes people who are related by blood or marriage, people who have previously been married, people who have a child together, and foster parents and foster children.
HOUSEHOLD MEMBER: Sections 71.005 and 71.006 of the Texas Family Code define household member. It includes people living together in the same dwelling, regardless of whether or not they are related, including a person who previously lived in the household.
If an Assault causing Bodily Injury case meets any of these definitions, it can be considered a Family Violence Case. This crime is still a Class A Misdemeanor, except there are several scenarios where it can be enhanced to a 3rd Degree Felony including:
If the actor has previously been convicted of an Assault Family Violence offense,
If the actor impedes the normal breathing or circulation of blood of the victim by applying pressure to the person’s throat or neck, or blocking their nose or mouth
If the actor is charged with two separate instances of Assault Family Violence in a 12 month period, even if it is with different victims.
It is important to note that although Deferred Adjudication is available for this crime, that Deferred would still count as a conviction for purposes of enhancing another Family Violence Offense to a 3rd Degree Felony. It is also important to note that a conviction or a Deferred Adjudication for this offense will prohibit the Defendant from possessing or owning a firearm. Assault Family Violence convictions can have devastating impacts on people’s lives, and an experienced criminal attorney is very important in these types of case. If you or a loved one has been charged with this crime, contact us for a free consultation.
These are just a few examples of common Misdemeanor crimes in Texas, but there are many more. In choosing an attorney it is important to make sure that attorney is aware of not only the law, but all of the other consequences that go along with these crimes. Please contact us to learn more.