Class C Misdemeanor: How Serious Are Those Charges?

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In Texas, Class C misdemeanors are the least severe type of misdemeanor and carry no jail time. The maximum penalty is a $500 fine. If a misdemeanor isn’t specifically classified as Class A, B, or C, it defaults to Class C.

The Austin misdemeanor attorneys at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., are ready to defend you if you have been charged with a Class C misdemeanor. We have more than 50 years of experience representing people facing criminal charges. We will do everything we can to secure the best possible outcome for you. Contact us by phone or online for a confidential consultation about your situation.

Understanding Class C Misdemeanors in Texas Law

Class C misdemeanors in Texas are low-level crimes. They are punishable by fines of up to $500. There is no jail time for committing a Class C misdemeanor. According to the statute (Tex. Penal Code Ann. §§ 12.03(3)(c) (2019)), “conviction of a Class C misdemeanor does not impose any legal disability or disadvantage.”

Any misdemeanor that is not designated as Class A, B, or C or that has no specified punishment is treated as a Class C misdemeanor. Class A and B misdemeanors are more serious low-level crimes that can result in jail time in addition to fines and court costs.

More serious crimes, which usually include harm against another person or a financial offense, are known as felonies. In Texas, felonies are classified into five categories according to the relative seriousness of the offense.

Infractions are the least serious category of criminal offense in Texas. For example, jaywalking, parking violations, and public nuisance are charged as infractions. Being found guilty of an infraction typically leads to community service and/or fines. People are not usually arrested for committing an infraction and do not face jail time.

Common Class C Misdemeanor Offenses in Texas

Most traffic violations that lead to tickets other than parking tickets in Texas are considered Class C misdemeanors. Other examples of Class C misdemeanors include:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Criminal trespassing
  • Simple assault
  • Petty theft or shoplifting of items worth less than $50
  • Passing bad checks worth less than $20
  • Gambling
  • Public intoxication
  • Possession of alcohol or tobacco as a minor
  • Driving under the influence as a minor
  • Possessing alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle
  • Possessing drug paraphernalia
  • Bail jumping
  • Leaving a child alone inside a vehicle
  • Illegal use of laser pointers

Fines and Consequences: Higher Penalties for Class C Misdemeanors in Texas

In some cases, a Class C misdemeanor charge can be enhanced, which means the penalties increase if you are convicted. You can expect enhanced Class C misdemeanor charges if:

  • You are convicted of disorderly conduct or public intoxication and have been convicted for either offense three times in the previous two years.
  • You are found to have committed the crime because of prejudice or bias against someone.
  • You are found to have used a controlled substance to commit the offense.

When criminal charges are enhanced, punishments available for the next highest classification of crime apply. Therefore, an enhanced Class C misdemeanor charge is punished as a Class B misdemeanor, which may result in the following:

  • A fine of up to $2,000
  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Both a fine and a jail sentence

Is Probation an Option for Class C Misdemeanor Charges?

In some cases, a defendant who is facing a Class C misdemeanor charge can plead guilty or no contest and receive deferred adjudication. This means a final verdict is not entered while the defendant serves a term of probation.

A misdemeanor defense attorney at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., can arrange a deferred judgment probation if you qualify for it. If you successfully complete the terms of probation, the case will be dismissed, and no conviction for the crime will appear on your record.

The terms of your probation will depend on the charges you face. In addition to scheduled appointments with your probation officer, your probation may require such conditions as drug and alcohol testing, maintaining employment, and staying away from people or places connected to the offense you were charged with.

Record Keeping: Class C Misdemeanors and Your Criminal Record

If you are convicted of a Class C offense in Texas, this links a criminal record to your name. Your conviction will become a part of the public record and will turn up in background checks conducted by prospective employers, landlords, loan officers, college or university admissions offices, and others. You may think a Class C misdemeanor is a low-level crime, but some organizations automatically reject applicants with any criminal record.

It is possible to have your criminal record expunged if you meet certain conditions, such as not having additional criminal charges filed against you or having been sentenced for a misdemeanor as a juvenile. This is a very complex process that requires obtaining a lot of documentation to submit with your petition for expungement. It is important to work with an expungement lawyer who has significant experience helping clients complete the expungement process.

Consult an Austin Misdemeanor Defense Attorney

If you’ve been charged with a Class C misdemeanor in Austin, prosecutors will vigorously pursue a conviction. Because a criminal record could have a lasting negative impact on your life, you should never face criminal charges of any kind without an experienced defense attorney at your side.

For 50 years, the criminal defense attorneys at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., have provided aggressive representation for people charged with misdemeanors and other crimes in the Austin area. Our Austin misdemeanor lawyers consider their work to be a service to the community where we live and work.

To discuss your rights and legal options in response to Class C misdemeanor charges with one of our misdemeanor attorneys, call or reach out to us online now.

Renowned legal expert with significant experience in Civil Law, Criminal Defense, and Family Law. Graduate of The University of Texas School of Law, and admitted to the bar in Texas and U.S. District Court Western District of Texas. Active member of esteemed legal associations including the Texas Bar Association and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association.