Can You Go to Jail for a Misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is defined as a crime punishable by up to a year in jail. But in Texas, whether or not you are likely to be incarcerated for a misdemeanor conviction depends on a number of aspects.
Punishment is determined in part by the crime’s seriousness. Texas divides misdemeanors into three classes:
- Class A misdemeanors, such as burglary, theft, stalking and carrying a gun without a permit, carry a maximum fine of $4,000 and/or one year in jail.
- Class B misdemeanors, such as theft, making terroristic threats, DUI/DWI and possessing small amounts of marijuana, carry a maximum fine of $2,000 and/or six months in jail.
- Class C misdemeanors, such as petty theft and assault without bodily injury, carry a maximum fine of $500 but usually no jail time.
Note that theft is subject to different punishments based on value of the property or services stolen. It is Class A if the value is between $500 and $1,500, Class B if between $50 and $500 and Class C if less than $50 (known as petty theft).
Whether or not you’re a repeat offender also affects the level of punishment:
- For a Class A misdemeanor, if you’ve been convicted of a Class A misdemeanor or a felony in the past, you’re subject to jail time of at least three months but not more than one year.
- For a Class B misdemeanor, if you’ve been convicted of a Class A or B misdemeanor or a felony in the past, you’re subject to jail time of at least one month but not more than six months.
- For a Class C misdemeanor, if you’ve been convicted of certain Class C misdemeanors three times within the past two years, you’re subject to a maximum of six months in jail.
Still another influence on punishment is whether there were aggravating factors in committing the crime. Class A misdemeanors can potentially carry a minimum of six months in jail if:
- Controlled substances were used to commit the crime, or
- The crime was committed out of bias or prejudice (commonly known as a hate crime)
Misdemeanors in Texas are tried in lower courts. Class A and B misdemeanors are heard by constitutional or at-law county courts, Class C misdemeanors by municipal courts or justices of the peace.
To learn more about whether you could potentially go to jail for a misdemeanor conviction, consult with an experienced defense attorney at The Law Firm of Richard L. Ellison P.C. Call us at 830-955-8168 or contact us online to arrange an appointment.