When a person is charged with a crime, it will be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The general idea is that a misdemeanor is less serious than a felony. These are crimes that were not violent or did not cause extensive property damage.
However, the impact that this criminal offense can have on a person’s life should not be underestimated. Being found guilty of a misdemeanor can cause difficulties in finding a job, renting or buying a home, or it can affect your social and family life. Keep reading to learn about the types of misdemeanors, their penalties, and their long-term consequences.
What Are Misdemeanors?
Misdemeanors are minor criminal offenses usually punishable by a fine, although some may include jail time. However, because the crimes are less serious, there are some limitations to these punishments. It is established that fines shall not exceed $4,000 and jail time shall not exceed one year. In addition, if jail time is to be served, it will be in a local prison or under house arrest.
Some examples of misdemeanors include:
- Certain drug offenses such as possession of small amounts of illegal drugs
- Public intoxication
- Certain weapons offenses such as unlawful possession of a firearm
- Writing bad checks
- Petty theft
- Family assault violence
Types of Misdemeanors
Misdemeanors are classified into Class A, Class B, and Class C, each establishing a different range of punishments, with A being the category of the most serious offenses.
- Class A misdemeanors receive the largest punishments. Those convicted of a misdemeanor in this category may pay up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $4,000. Examples of this category include: online impersonation, cruelty to animals, and violation of a protection order.
- Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. In Texas, some examples of this category include: obstruction of a highway, possession of up to 2 oz of marijuana, and indecent exposure.
- Class C misdemeanors are the least serious. A person convicted of a misdemeanor in this category will not have to pay jail time and will receive a fine of no more than $500. Some examples of this category include: disorderly conduct, leaving a child in a vehicle, and public intoxication.
Special Sentencing Considerations
There are some factors that will play a role in deciding what the sentence will be in addition to the category to which the person’s offense belongs.
- Recidivism: If a person has previously been convicted of a Class A misdemeanor and is now being prosecuted for a Class B misdemeanor, the mandatory minimum sentence will be 90 days in jail. If the recidivist is a Class B misdemeanor, the minimum sentence will be 30 days.
- Drug Use: If drugs were used in the commission of the Class A crime, the convicted person must pay a mandatory minimum of 180 days.
- Hate Crime: If the crime was motivated by bias or prejudice, it will be considered the next category to which it belongs. That is, if it was a Class C offense, it will be considered Class B, and if it was a Class B offense, it will be considered Class A. For Class A misdemeanors, the convicted person will receive a minimum sentence of 180 days in jail.
Keep in mind that being convicted of a misdemeanor will have consequences beyond the penalties. It will stay on your record, affecting your work life, education, and even your ability to get housing. You could lose certain permits to work as a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or other professions that require a professional license. In the case of family violence crimes, they may result in losing the right to carry a firearm.
If you’re being prosecuted for a misdemeanor, you need to have a good lawyer to know what options you have and what are the best decisions for your case. At AMS Law Group, we have experienced misdemeanor criminal defense lawyers who are ready to help you with your case. Contact us as soon as possible to help you through the process. We will seek the best outcome for you in this difficult situation.