Common Examples of Misdemeanors in Houston
Misdemeanors commonly charged in Houston range from certain drug crimes with a small amount of controlled substances, to petty theft, to DWI first offense. Most misdemeanors will be crimes that do not involve violence or a high degree of property loss. Sentencing is most often decided on by a judge, but a jury may suggest sentencing measures to a judge. In addition to helping with these type of cases, we can also represent you in the face of probation violations, or military crimes if you are a member of the armed forces. Members of the armed forces may also be eligible for special Veteran’s Treatment Courts which can result in no conviction or jail time.
Expunction and Sealing of Misdemeanor Records
The process to vacate or expunge your criminal records is known as “expunction.” This process occurs after either an arrest, an acquittal (finding of not guilty), or a dismissal. A person seeking an expunction must then wait a certain amount of time for their record to be eligible for favorable action under the expunction process. At a minimum, the person must not have any current criminal charges or proceedings pending against them. Class A and B misdemeanors are eligible for expunction one year from the date of the arrest while Class C misdemeanors are eligible 180 days from the arrest date. A person seeking expunction must petition the court for an “order of nondisclosure” and often involves completion of supervision and other court-mandated programs.
What is the Difference Between and Misdemeanor and a Felony?
Excepting very minor infractions such as speeding tickets, the State of Texas classifies all crimes codified in Texas Penal Law as either misdemeanors or felonies. This categorization reflects the intensity of the crimes, with misdemeanor charges being less serious than felony charges.
Although less serious, a misdemeanor charge should still be taken seriously. A misdemeanor conviction still results in a criminal record which can adversely impact a person’s ability to seek employment. Additionally, a person convicted of a misdemeanor still faces imprisonment and heavy fines.
Misdemeanors come in three classes: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Convictions for Class A misdemeanors may carry a penalty of up to one full year in county jail, and a fine of up to $4,000. Class B misdemeanors are considered less severe and only have a maximum jail time penalty of 180 days in a county jail, and a fine of up to $2,000. Class C misdemeanors are considered the least severe of all misdemeanor charges. There is no jail time involved with a Class C misdemeanor; however, it can result in a fine of up to $500.
Felonies, on the other hand, have five classification levels, ranging from Capital felonies to State jail felonies. Regardless of their specific class, all felonies in Texas carry a potential penalty of more than one year spent in prison. In fact, certain felonies can result in up to twenty-five years behind bars, or even life in prison or the death penalty for violent Capital felonies.
Collateral Consequences of a felony conviction
All felony convictions comes with collateral consequences. The penalties of a conviction, in addition to jail time and fines, include losing the right to vote, losing the right to carry a firearm or own weapons, getting stripped of certain certifications, or being blocked from certain professions.