Hyatt & Hyatt, PLLC is ready and able to assist you or a loved one defend against misdemeanor allegations. While misdemeanors have shorter sentences than felonies, the negative implications of having a criminal offense on your record are serious. That's why it is important to have attorneys that understand the system, whether that's a discussion of the statutory scheme or an understanding of your local jurisdiction.
The Texas Penal Code outlines three classes of Misdemeanor offenses: Class A, Class B and Class C. Under ordinary circumstances, the punishment range of these Classes is straightforward. If an individual is punished as a Class A misdemeanor, they’re looking at up to a $4,000 fine and/or up to a year in jail. On a Class B Misdemeanor, the punishment may be up to a $2,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail. A Class C Misdemeanor’s punishment may not exceed a $500 fine.
There are two areas where misdemeanor punishment ranges can change from the ordinary to something different: (1) prior convictions and (2) specific statutory provisions. In the former, if an individual is accused of a Class A Misdemeanor and it is shown at trial that they’ve previously been convicted of a Class A Misdemeanor or any felony, the floor of the punishment range is raised to 90 days. As such, the punishment assessed may be up to a $4,000 fine and/or a term of confinement in jail from 90 days to one year. If it is shown at trial of a Class B misdemeanor, that the individual accused has previously been convicted of a Class B or A Misdemeanor or any felony, the floor is raised to 30 days. The enhanced punishment’s fine may not exceed $2,000 and/or the confinement in jail may not be less than 30 days or more than 180 days. If it is shown at trial of a Class C misdemeanor that an individual has been previously convicted of either Disorderly Conduct or Public Intoxication three or more times, the punishment shall be a fine not to exceed $2,000 and/or confinement in jail not to exceed 180 days. Basically, if an individual has 3 or more convictions for Disorderly Conduct and/or Public Intoxication, the punishment is bumped up to that of a Class B Misdemeanor.
Then, there’s the catchall. If a punishment scheme is dictated in the statute for a specific offense, that scheme trumps the above mentioned punishment ranges.
What’s the moral of the story? Have a skilled Criminal Defense attorney during negotiations. Whether your case is a plea negotiation or trial, a clear understanding of the statutory scheme and rules is helpful in ensuring a desirable outcome. Just because an individual has prior convictions does not necessarily mean that the prosecuting attorney will allege such. This is all part of the negotiation.
The specific sections of the Texas Penal Code that pertain to the above content are: §12.02-12.03, §12.21-12.23 and §12.43. As of the writing of this content, on February 8, 2016, this is up to date. These sections are available for free online at http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/?link=PE
As always, if you have any questions about legal representation and or possible punishments, seek the advice of a qualified attorney. Hyatt & Hyatt, PLLC is more than happy to help with representation on misdemeanor cases. We are uniquely qualified to tackle Misdemeanor Offenses as Jonathan is Board Certified in Criminal Law and Darrell spent 20 years as a County Court at Law Judge, presiding over the prosecution of Misdemeanors.This is only a snippet of what needs to be considered when determining proper legal action. This content is provided for informational purposes only.