This is the next post in my series on the handling of misdemeanor charges in Austin, Texas. My last article discussed what happens after a first-offense misdemeanor arrest. It is important for defendants to understand that such charges must be taken seriously, even though they are not a felony. This is due to the fact that a conviction can result in jail time, fines, and being saddled with a permanent criminal record. If you or a family member have been charged it is, therefore, important that you speak with an attorney immediately. In this article I will discuss another important topic – how a misdemeanor conviction can lead to increased future penalties. If you need assistance then contact my office today to speak with a criminal defense lawyer. I have been practicing law since 1995 and I am Board Certified in Criminal Defense by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Texas law imposes increased penalties for misdemeanor charges when the defendant already has a prior conviction. Under Texas Penal Code Section 12.43, the following enhancements are imposed on subsequent offenders:
- Class “A” misdemeanor charges will carry a minimum of 90 days in jail, where a first-offense would have no minimum jail time.
- Class “B” offenders will face a minimum sentence of at least 30 days
- Certain Class “C” misdemeanor offenses can result in a jail sentence of up to 180 days if a defendant has at least three prior convictions.
The sentence which a judge will levy upon a defendant will always depend on the specific facts of the case. It must be understood, however, that the typical judge is far less likely to be lenient with a repeat offender than they are with someone who is facing the criminal justice system for the first time. This is for the obvious fact that, in the eyes of the Court, one did not “learn their lesson” the first time around. Repeat misdemeanor offenders, therefore, need to appreciate the gravity of their situation.
It must also be understood that misdemeanor convictions can result in stiffer penalties for future felony convictions. When a Judge issues a sentence in any criminal case, including a felony, they will take the defendant’s criminal record into account. As far as the Court is concerned, prior misdemeanor convictions will mean that one has had a prior brush with the law and now their potential conduct has elevated itself to felony status. In such situations, the typical judge is very unlikely to accept an argument that the defendant will stay out of trouble in the future. As such, when issuing a felony sentence a judge may choose the higher end of an available range when the accused has a prior misdemeanor conviction.
It is imperative that you take misdemeanor charges seriously as a conviction can have serious consequences on your future. One of these consequences, as explained above, is the fact that you will face enhanced penalties for any subsequent offenses. While it is understandable that future enhancements are not the first thing that comes to mind after being charged with a crime, one must remember that no one plans to get arrested. Vigorously defending against a first-offense provides you with a better chance of protecting your future in the event that you are arrested again. The first step in defending yourself is to hire an experienced attorney.
I am an Austin criminal defense lawyer who devotes his practice to protecting the rights of the accused. I understand that this is a pivotal time in your life and my office will give your case the attention it deserves. My office prides itself on providing quality service and we will give your case the attention it deserves as it moves through the system. Contact us online or by telephone to schedule an appointment. 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.