CRIMINAL LAW

CRIMINAL LAW: MISDEMEANORS

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A misdemeanor is a criminal offense, but less serious than a felony. Regardless, if found guilty, you may be faced with fines, jail time, and a criminal record which can have an impact on your future.

Criminal misdemeanors are classified by severity into three different categories, and each carries its own level of penalties.

MISDEMEANOR PENALTY
Class A a fine not to exceed $4,000 or confinement in county jail not to exceed one year, or both.
Class B a fine not to exceed $2,000 or confinement in county jail not to exceed 180 days, or both.
Class C a fine not to exceed $500.

If you already have a criminal record and are charged with a misdemeanor, you may be faced with heavier penalties if a guilty verdict is reached after trial.

MISDEMEANOR PENALTY
Class A a fine not to exceed $4,000 or confinement in county jail not to exceed one year but not less than 90 days; or both such fine and confinement.
Class B a fine not to exceed $2,000 or confinement in county jail not to exceed 180 days but not less than 30 days; or both such fine and confinement.
Class C a fine not to exceed $2,000 or confinement in county jail not to exceed 180 days; or both such fine and confinement.

SENTENCING

Your attorney may advise you to agree to a plea bargain for a lesser charge or take your case to trial if the prosecution has an overwhelming amount of evidence against you. Prior to trial, you may choose if you prefer a jury or a judge to render your sentencing if you are found to be guilty. If convicted, a sentencing hearing will be scheduled to announce your punishment. Your attorney will present the best case possible for you and argue on your behalf to receive a less severe punishment.

A conviction does not necessarily mean you will serve jail time. There are other options that may be available to you. Instead of jail time, you may be receive probation, or community supervision, and be obligated to meet certain requirements imposed by the courts, which may include reporting to a community supervision officer on a regular basis, pay fines, restitutions, commit to regular inspection of your home, and maintaining employment.

If jail time is ordered, house arrest or weekends in jail may be a viable alternative to a long-term sentence.

CLEANING YOUR CRIMINAL RECORD

A criminal record can have a severe impact on your future. In some cases, you may be able to have arrests completely removed from your criminal record or have certain offenses hidden from public view.

An expunction is a process through which an arrest is cleared from your record. This may be possible if:

  • charges were not filed;
  • charges were filed, but later dismissed;
  • you were acquitted;
  • you received a pardon due to your innocence; or
  • your case did not go to trial.

Nondisclosure prohibits public entities (i.e. courts and police department) from disclosing certain offenses from your criminal record. Unlike an expunction, the record is not completely erased or destroyed, it is merely hidden from the public. However, this may be beneficial to you when you are applying for a job or completing an application that requires you to disclose information on your criminal record.

Not all offenses qualify for nondisclosure. Meeting all requirements as set out below does not guarantee that the court will approve your Petition for Nondisclosure and sign the Order of Nondisclosure.

ELIGIBILITY FOR ORDER OF NONDISCLOSURE

Before a Petition for Nondisclosure is considered, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. You have been placed on deferred adjudication community supervision for the offense in which you wish to have removed from your criminal record, and a judge has signed and entered an Order of Deferred Adjudication for said offense.

  2. You have completed all requirements as per the Order of Deferred Adjudication and the judge has signed and entered an Order of Dismissal and Discharge.

  3. Only specific offenses qualify for an Order of Nondisclosure. If the offense for which you are seeking to have removed from your record falls under any one of the following categories, it will not be eligible for an Order of Nondisclosure:
    • murder;
    • capital murder;
    • aggravated kidnapping;
    • injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual;
    • abandoning or endangering a child;
    • violation of certain court orders or conditions of bond in a family violence, sexual assault, stalking or trafficking case;
    • stalking;
    • any offense for which requires you to register as a sex offender; and
    • any offense involving family violence.
  4. Your criminal history has an impact on whether or not the offense for which you are seeking an Order of Nondisclosure will be eligible. If you have any of the following offenses on your criminal record, you will not qualify for an Order of Nondisclosure: 
    • murder;
    • capital murder;
    • aggravated kidnapping;
    • injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual;
    • abandoning or endangering a child;
    • violation of certain court orders or conditions of bond in a family violence, sexual assault, stalking or trafficking case;
    • stalking;
    • any offense for which requires you to register as a sex offender; and
    • any offense involving family violence
  5. If you meet the qualifications, there is a waiting period before you can petition the court for an Order of Nondisclosure. This period begins on the date the judge signs the Order of Dismissal and Discharge:
TYPE OF OFFENSE WAITING PERIOD
Felony 5 years
Any of the following misdemeanors:
  • Kidnapping, unlawful restraint, and smuggling of persons (Texas Penal Code, Chapter 20)
  • Sexual offenses (Texas Penal Code, Chapter 21)
  • Assaultive offenses (Texas Penal Code, Chapter 22)
  • Offenses against the family (Texas Penal Code, Chapter 25)
  • Disorderly conduct and related offenses (Texas Penal Code, Chapter 42)
  • Weapons (Texas Penal Code, Chapter 46)
2 years
Any other misdemeanor No waiting period

CRIMINAL MISDEMEANORS

The information provided above is only a brief overview of criminal misdemeanors, and the possibility of obtaining an order for expunction or nondisclosure, and is not to be considered legal advice. Every case is different, and the specifics in your situation may affect the outcome of your suit. Obtain a lawyer that is well-equipped and has extensive knowledge in this area to ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you receive the best possible outcome. Call the Law Office of Nancy E. Lusk at 281-242-2700 or click the button below to send Nancy E. Lusk a message.