Dallas County Attorney Answers Some General Questions about Misdemeanor Offenses in Texas

It is not uncommon for the average person to be unfamiliar with the Texas criminal justice system. Especially, if the person has never had a run in with the law or known someone who has. The following are some of the more general questions Dallas County residents have about misdemeanor offenses in Texas:

How do misdemeanor and felony offenses differ?

Generally speaking, offenses that are labeled as “misdemeanors” are considered to be far less serious crimes than those labeled as felony offenses. As such, misdemeanor offenses carry less serve penalties than felony offenses. For example, felony convictions are usually punishable by a sentence of at least one year in a state penitentiary and have stiff fines. Whereas misdemeanors sentences are usually for no more than one year and are served at the county jail. Some misdemeanor offenses carry no jail time and are only punishable by a fine. Unlike certain felony offenses, misdemeanor offenses also cannot not affect a person’s civil liberties. Therefore, a person charged with even a serious misdemeanor offense, will not lose his or her voting rights or right to own a firearm.

Are there different categories of misdemeanor offenses?

Just like felony offenses, they are varying degrees of misdemeanor offenses. The most serious of misdemeanor offenses, are categorized as Class A, and range to the least being Class C. Some examples of the misdemeanor offenses are as follows:

  • Class A: Carrying a gun without a permit, resisting arrest, and second offense DWI
  • Class B: Minor drug possession, vandalism, indecent exposure and first offense DWI
  • Class C: Possession of alcohol in a motor vehicle, public intoxication and disorderly conduct

What are the maximum penalties for a misdemeanor offense?  

Each category of misdemeanor carries with it a different maximum penalty. The penalties are as follows:

Class A: A fine not to exceed $4,000 and/or up to 365 days in jail

Class B: A fine not to exceed $2,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail

Class C: a fine of not more than $500

Does a person charged with a misdemeanor offense have the right to a trial by jury?

Just like with a felony offense, a person charged with a misdemeanor offense has the right to a jury trial. However, whether a person should exercise this right or not, is a decision best made after the person consults with his or her attorney.

Do I need to hire an attorney if charged with a misdemeanor?

While a person charged with a misdemeanor offense has the right to represent him or herself, it is often not a wise decision. While misdemeanor offenses carry less serve penalties than felony charges, the person’s rights are still in jeopardy. Depending on the charges faced, if found guilty the court could impose a sentence of up to a year in jail and the charge will appear on the person’s criminal record.

If you have been arrested and charged with a misdemeanor offense in Dallas County, it is normal to have questions and need someone to explain to you your rights. However, it is important that the only person you trust with providing you with such information is a seasoned Dallas County Criminal Defense Attorney. With more than 30 years of experience, Attorney Jack Pettit is the attorney you can turn to when you have been charged with a criminal offense. To learn how attorney Jack Pettit can help you, contact the Law Office of Jack Pettit today to schedule an appointment by calling (214) 521-4567. Our office is conveniently located in downtown Dallas, across from the courthouse. We provide services to clients in both English and Spanish. Major credit cards are accepted as well.

 

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