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CRIMINAL DEFENSE

Austin Misdemeanor Defense Attorney

Misdemeanor Charges In Travis County

Everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes land you in jail.  For minor infractions, you’re going to be slapped with a misdemeanor.  While not as serious as felony charges, they should still be taken seriously, as a conviction can stay on your criminal history for life. Avoiding a mark on your criminal record should always be a top priority considering the negative long-term effects they can cause. Luckily, an experienced Austin misdemeanor defense attorney can help you build a strong defense geared towards mitigating or erasing all misdemeanor charges.

There are three classes of misdemeanors.  Class C violations are the lowest, and are fine-only, meaning there’s no possibility for jail time (unless you miss court and receive a failure to appear, in which case a warrant can be issued.)  Class C includes traffic tickets, possession of drug paraphernalia, and theft under $100.

Class B misdemeanors are a little more serious.  These include first-time DWIs, criminal trespass, and possession of marijuana.   The penalty for a Class B misdemeanor is up to 6 months jail time and a $2,000 fine.  In addition to the higher penalties, B misdemeanors are handled in County Court, as opposed to a municipal or JP court for class C citations.

Class A misdemeanors are the most serious.  These can include assaults, second-time DWIs, or DWIs where the BAC is over .15.  Penalties for Class A misdemeanors range up to a year and $4,000.  

Criminal Trespass Charges

Trespass is one of those crimes that often get charged when law enforcement suspects a more serious crime, but there’s just not enough evidence for it.  To be charged with criminal trespass, the actor must have had knowledge that his presence was forbidden.  This can be with a written or verbal communication, but if there is no notice, then trespass cannot be charged.  “No Trespassing” signs are a form of notice.  

Sometimes trespass warnings can be given in open courts – such as in a protective order hearing.  Even if the protective order is not granted, a judge may issue a no-trespass warning, and this serves as a notice in case trespassing charges are brought in the future.

Criminal Trespass is usually a class B misdemeanor but can be bumped down to a C misdemeanor if on farmland.  There are situations that can enhance it to an A misdemeanor, like if the trespass occurred in a habitation or shelter center. There is often a lot of grey area with these misdemeanor charges, that’s why it’s recommended to seek counsel from a veteran Austin misdemeanor lawyer who has represented countless similar cases.

Criminal Mischief  Charges(28.03)

Criminal Mischief refers to the destruction of property.  Alcohol is often a contributing factor as vehicles and buildings may get damaged in the course of an alcohol-fueled argument or fight.  It’s also the charge when someone is arrested for graffiti.  Depending on the value of the property, criminal mischief can be charged as a class C, all the way up to a felony if the amount of property damage is $2,500 or more.  However, it is typically a misdemeanor arrest.  

Public Intoxication Charges (49.02)

A person can be charged with Public Intoxication if they are so intoxicated that they are a danger to themselves or others.  This is typically way above the .08 necessary for a DWI.  A person would need to be visibly intoxicated and calling attention to him or herself in some way.  Often, if the person has the support of someone who can take him or her home, law enforcement may overlook the charge.  Even if arrested, formal charges might not be filed.  

Cruelty to Non-livestock Animals (42.092)

Animal cruelty is never viewed favorably and leads to Class A misdemeanor charges.  It can also be enhanced to a felony if there is a previous animal cruelty conviction on record.  

Typical ways in which animal cruelty is charged is when an animal is left in the car too long on a summer day and becomes sick, or is tied to a tree unattended.  Neglect can also lead to charges, and this can include failure to provide food, water, and veterinary care.  If you cannot afford the care that is essential for the animal, that is not a defense.  In that case, it might be wise to find an alternate person who can care for the animal.

There are separate statutes that deal with dog fighting and cockfighting, although in the case of dogfighting, you could be slapped with a cruelty charge as well in some cases.  

Dealing with Misdemeanor Charges

“Minor” misdemeanor charges rarely lead to trial.  Instead, they are often handled with plea deals that allow the defendant to eventually expunge or seal the record.  There are often hoops to jump through, such as community service or classes, but these are typically much better than having a permanent conviction on your criminal record.  

In cases where there are repeated or especially serious violations, a pretrial dismissal might not be available.  In that case, it is still rare to face jail time or significant fines.  Still, it is very important to have a trusted Austin misdemeanor defense attorney handle plea negotiations and work the very best possible deal.

Contact an Austin Misdemeanor Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor in Travis County or a surrounding county, contact ATX Legal and speak with our Austin misdemeanor defense lawyer to get a free case evaluation.  We charge reasonable flat fees and handle the case from beginning to end.

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