What is the Difference between Class A, B, and C Misdemeanors?
Texas law divides criminal offenses into two main categories - felonies and misdemeanors. Misdemeanor offenses are less severe than felony charges, but they are still matters you should take very seriously. Even if you think your charge is simply a “minor” misdemeanor, you can still face lasting consequences, and you should still have the assistance and representation of a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.
Degrees of Misdemeanors
The law further divides each category of criminal charges into degrees, and for misdemeanors, these include Class A, B, and C misdemeanors. Class C is the least serious, while Class A is the level right before a charge becomes a felony. While each degree of charge has its own potential penalties, no misdemeanor charge can have penalties involving more than one year in county jail.
Class A Misdemeanor Charges
The maximum penalty for a Class A misdemeanor conviction is one year in jail and fines up to $4,000. Some examples include:
- Criminal mischief causing up to $2,500 in damage
- Burglary of a vehicle
- Public lewdness
- Possessing between two and four ounces of marijuana
When a prosecutor enhances a Class A misdemeanor, it becomes a state jail felony, so this is a serious situation.
Class B Misdemeanor Charges
The next level down, a Class B misdemeanor conviction can lead to up to 180 days in county jail, fines up to $2,000, or both. If enhanced, the charge can become a Class A misdemeanor or in some cases, a felony. Some Class B charges include:
- Criminal mischief causing up to $750 in damage
- Disorderly conduct
- Making a false police report
- Criminal trespass
- Possessing up to two ounces of marijuana
Class C Misdemeanor Charges
These are the least serious offenses when it comes to Texas criminal law, and there is no jail time possible for a Class C conviction. Instead, the maximum penalty is a fine of $500. However, a Class C misdemeanor will still be a mark on your permanent criminal record, so it is not something to be taken lightly. Having a criminal record - even with a minor conviction - can still cause many problems in your life.
Examples of Class C misdemeanors are:
- Public intoxication
- Theft less than $100
- Underage possession of alcohol
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
In general, prosecutors have two years to charge you with a misdemeanor from the date of the alleged offenses. While probation is often an option in lieu of jail time for misdemeanor cases, some misdemeanors come with a mandatory jail sentence if certain factors exist, such as having prior convictions.
Discuss Your Case With a Fort Worth Criminal Defense Attorney
Even if a misdemeanor seems minor, it can still have an effect on your life in many different ways. You should never risk an overly harsh result - instead, reach out to Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer Kyle Whitaker as soon as you can. Contact us to learn more about how we can help defend against your misdemeanor charges.