There are two major categories of crimes: felonies and misdemeanors. Of these two, the misdemeanors are the less serious ones.
And there are three different kinds of misdemeanors, class A, class B, and class C. Of the three, class C misdemeanors are the least serious. In fact, the possible punishment doesn’t even include a jail sentence. It’s just a fine of $500 or less, community service, or both.
There is even an option of probation, which means that if the defendant meets all the criteria and completes the probation period successfully, the class C misdemeanor charge will be dropped, and there will be no record of it when it comes to background checks.
If you think a class C misdemeanor isn’t a big deal, however, you’re mistaken. If you are convicted, your conviction will show up during a background check, and that can come back to bite you. You may not get a job you want. You may face disadvantages when it comes to housing. And there are other disadvantages as well.
How to Deal With a Class C Misdemeanor
In this blog post, you’ll find out a lot more about what a class C misdemeanor is, and which misdeeds are classified as class C misdemeanors. You’ll also find out what it means to be convicted of one, and what to do about it. But first, let’s start with how to deal with it.
The most important thing is not to take it lightly. Yes, there is no jail sentence. But there are still unpleasant consequences.
So the first step is prevention. Familiarize yourself with the kinds of activities that count as class C misdemeanors, and just don’t do them.
If it’s too late for that, you should call a criminal defense attorney for a free consultation and get some advice, and hopefully help. Yes, the maximum penalty is “only” $500 in Texas, but a criminal conviction will haunt you for your entire life and result in stiffer penalties should you run afoul with the law again, even if it’s just a minor traffic violation. So don’t skip this step.
Talk to an attorney!
Examples of Class C Misdemeanors in Texas
So what kinds of things can get you a class C misdemeanor charge? Read on:
- Traffic tickets
- Leaving a child in a car
- Minor in possession of alcohol
- Minor in possession of cigarettes or other tobacco products
- Possession of drug-related paraphernalia
- Petty theft
- Trespassing on public property
- Writing a “hot check” for less than $20
- Public intoxication
- Disorderly conduct
What do you think? Some of these can be outright scary. Imagine being found with a cigarette on you when you’re under 21 and suddenly having a criminal record? Or running a stop sign and getting a ticket? Or trespassing on public property?
And it gets worse… If you should be convicted of a class C misdemeanor three times, the Texas Penal Code Section 12.43. (https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.12.htm) has provisions to increase the penalties significantly for what they call repeat and habitual misdemeanor offenders, up to and including a jail sentence of 180 days as well as a $2,000 fine:
(c) If it is shown on the trial of an offense punishable as a Class C misdemeanor under Section 42.01 or 49.02 that the defendant has been before convicted under either of those sections three times or three times for any combination of those offenses and each prior offense was committed in the 24 months preceding the date of commission of the instant offense, the defendant shall be punished by:
(1) a fine not to exceed $2,000;
(2) confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days; or
(3) both such a fine and confinement.
As you can see, the penalties can seriously increase under certain circumstances, especially for repeat offenders. And while jail time is not part of the normal class C penalty, you can still end up spending a few nights in jail if you get arrested for an offense.
And you should also realize that paying the fine imposed for a first (or any subsequent) offense counts as an admission of guilt. And that means, it’s part of your record, which anyone doing a background check on you will be able to find, including potential landlords and employers as well as government agencies. And clearly, this will have consequences for a range of issues, from living conditions, employment, and even access to student loans.
What About Probation
Since class C misdemeanors don’t usually come with a jail sentence, the traditional probation approach does not apply. However, there is nonetheless a way to make it part of a deferred disposition. It requires the defendant to complete a probation process.
This means that he or she must make it through the probation period without violating any of the terms that have been imposed. These can include paying restitution and fees as well as court costs, meeting with a probation officer, doing community service, and, most importantly, not getting arrested.
In order to go through deferred disposition, the defendant has to plead guilty or no contest. If he completes the process successfully, the charges are dismissed. This means they are not on his record and don’t have to be expunged either.
If the defendant is unsuccessful in the probation process and violates the conditions, the case is resumed and moves straight to sentencing.
Can Class C Misdemeanors Be Expunged?
You may wonder if class C misdemeanors can be expunged, and the answer is yes, at least under certain conditions. You would do well, though, to get the help of an attorney when you go that route. In fact, get help throughout the entire process.
Most experienced Texas criminal attorneys have plenty of experience with helping their clients getting their class C misdemeanor charges expunged. It will make a huge difference in your life for many years to come.
So if you are dealing with a class C misdemeanor, take it seriously. Call us for a free consultation, and we will be happy to talk with you and help you get the best outcome.