Judge with gavel and penThis is the next post in my series on the handling of misdemeanor charges in Austin, Texas. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing. It also stressed the need to speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately if you or a loved one have been charged with a crime. It is important that you contact counsel immediately due to the fact that such charges, while not a felony, carry serious consequences. These consequences include being saddled with a permanent criminal record and all the difficulties that flow from that. In this article, I will address the commonly asked question of whether one can go to jail for a first-time misdemeanor offense. If you are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a criminal defense lawyer.

First time misdemeanor convictions in Texas can result in jail time or probation

The potential for jail time for a Texas misdemeanor depends on the nature of the offense. A Class “A” misdemeanor can result in up to one year in jail (in addition to a fine), while a Class “B” offense carries a sentence of up to 180 days. Class “C” charges do not carry potential jail time. It is important to understand, however, that an individual who is facing first offense misdemeanor charges will also be eligible for probation. Receiving probation would mean that the Judge would issue a sentence but that sentence would be suspended. The defendant would be placed under supervision and, as long as they successfully complete all requirements, the case would be closed. If an individual violates the terms of their supervision then they may be required to serve the originally imposed sentence.

It must be understood that a first offense misdemeanor can be paired with other charges. Suppose, for example, that an individual is charged with violating a protective order (a Class “A” charge). Now suppose that the individual also assaulted the person who had taken out the protective order and seriously injured them. Under this scenario, the defendant would likely be charged with violating the protective order and with felony assault. Under these circumstances, the felony assault charge may very well result in a prison sentence. The sentence which the Judge will issue will always depend on the specific facts of the case.

It is important that Austin residents understand the consequences associated with a misdemeanor charge

Defendants sometimes make the mistake of believing that a misdemeanor charge is not serious due to the fact that it is not a felony. While the potential consequences may not be quite as severe, they are still serious. In addition to facing incarceration, a defendant may be disqualified from many areas of employment, from housing, and other areas of life which frown on having a criminal record. It is important that you take the matter seriously. Fortunately, you have options. Depending on the facts of the case, your counsel may be able to defend the case outright or they may be able to negotiate a more favorable outcome. Speaking with counsel as soon as possible can help you to understand your options.

I am an Austin criminal defense lawyer who has been licensed since 1995 and I am Board Certified in Criminal Defense by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. I devote my practice to protecting the rights of the accused and I look forward to speaking with you. Contact us online or by telephone to schedule an initial consultation. My office also serves the cities of Rollingwood, Round Rock, Elgin, Jonestown, Manor, Bee Cave, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley, Lakeway, Creedmoor, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, and San Marcos, Texas.