Can You Go to Jail for Misdemeanor Charges in Texas?
If you’ve been arrested in Texas for a misdemeanor charge, you may be wondering what the odds are that you will receive jail time. First of all, jail time IS possible. Class A misdemeanors include a potential jail sentence of up to one year and 6 months for Class B. However, the good news is that it is not likely for most charges.
A good criminal defense attorney will often be able to provide an alternative to jail sentences, and may be able to avoid a misdemeanor conviction all together. Of course, every case is different, so speak with your lawyer about possible consequences for your specific case.
Besides a County Jail Sentence, What Other Penalties I May Receive for a Misdemeanor in Texas?
By far the most common penalty for a misdemeanor conviction is probation or deferred adjudication. This means that you will be on community supervision for a term of usually 1-2 years. The main difference between deferred adjudication and probation is how the charge is reflected on your criminal history. Although not technically a criminal conviction, a Deferred is often very similar to probation in terms of consequences.
Misdemeanor probation for Criminal Offenses
Misdemeanor probation is not a usually a huge burden, but you do need to take it seriously to avoid a revocation that could land you in jail. Typically, you will be required to take classes, perform community service hours, and pay a probation fee. You may need to meet with your probation officer in-person, but for most misdemeanors, the check-in is often handled by phone. The exception here is if you need to come in for scheduled or random drug tests. For misdemeanors, unsupervised probation is most likely.
Class A Misdemeanors
Class A misdemeanors are the most serious criminal offenses that are not felonies. You could go to jail for a maximum sentence of a year and face a maximum fine of $4,000. They include second-time DWI and Assault – Domestic violence misdemeanors. Even these criminal charges avoid the harsher penalties of a felony charge, so time in county jail is unlikely.
However, there are exceptions. A particularly egregious assault may include some jail time. Also, if you are unable to comply with bond conditions by, for example, having multiple IID violations while on bond for DWI, you could end up with some county jail time to get issue that sorted.
The Pretrial Conference
Pretrial conferences offer an opportunity to speak with the prosecutor about a potential plea agreement. Most misdemeanor offenses end in a plea agreement of some kind, and it is up to the criminal defense lawyer to get the best possible offer before deciding whether to take the case to a jury trial.
A plea bargain can result in misdemeanor convictions for less serious crimes, or in some cases, a dismissal that will allow you to expunge the misdemeanor charge from your criminal record.
Getting a Misdemeanor Expunged in Texas
Misdemeanor crimes can be expunged only if they do not result in a conviction. Therefore, any misdemeanor charges that result in jail sentences cannot be expunged. The best time to consider an expunction is while your criminal case is still pending. Therefore, you should speak with your criminal defense lawyer to fully understand the consequences before you plea in misdemeanor cases.
FAQs for Misdemeanor Offenses
Can a Drug Crime Be a Misdemeanor?
You can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony for drug charges, depending on the amount and type of substance, and whether you are alleged to be distributing the drugs. In general, county jail time is less likely with drug charges than other more serious crimes.
What are the consequences later in life?
Although simple misdemeanors do not carry the multi-year jail sentences of felonies, minor crimes can still affect you in the future. One big consequence is if you decide to apply for a professional license. If not expunged, you will typically need to explain the circumstances, and the licensing agency could delay or deny the license on this basis. The same goes for any potential employer.
For first time offenders charged with a misdemeanor, it is especially important to protect your criminal record. A first misdemeanor conviction will create problems for the rest of your life, as criminal convictions – even misdemeanors -last a lifetime under current law
What happens if I plead not guilty?
If you plead not guilty to a misdemeanor charge, might set the case on a trial docket and prepare for trial. Plea negotiations can and do usually continue as trial nears. If you are found guilty at trial, you may face jail time or probation, and this can be determined by the judge or jury in some cases.
Can a criminal defense attorney help?
Having the right criminal lawyer is important for avoiding a maximum penalty such jail sentences. It is important to be comfortable with your attorney throughout the process so that he can best assist you in achieving the best possible outcome.
Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
For legal help on misdemeanors in Travis, Hays, or Williamson County, contact us for a free consultation. You can text 512-677-5003, or fill out a contact form to schedule a phone call.