When A Misdemeanor Charge Can Be Elevated
Even misdemeanor charges can have long-term consequences. Too often, people believe misdemeanors are no big deal because they are considered less severe than felonies, and the potential penalties may be more manageable. But the reality is there are certain circumstances in which a misdemeanor charge can be elevated to a felony.
To explore what a misdemeanor charge in Texas is, when a misdemeanor can be elevated to a felony, and fully understand the charges you are facing, connect with a Houston criminal lawyer.
What is a Misdemeanor Charge in Texas?
In Texas, a misdemeanor is a criminal offense that is less serious than a felony. Misdemeanors are divided into three categories: Class A, Class B, and Class C. The severity of the offense determines the classification.
- Class C misdemeanors are the least serious and carry a maximum fine of $500. Some situations that could lead to a Class C offense include traffic violations, disorderly conduct, or minor drug offenses.
- Class B misdemeanors carry a penalty of up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000. Class B offense examples include DUI first offenses, theft of property with a $100-$750 value, or possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana (up to 2 ounces).
- Class A misdemeanors carry a penalty of up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $4,000. Class A offenses include assault causing bodily injury or theft of property with a $750-$2,500 value.
But, there are situations when a misdemeanor charge can be enhanced.
When Can a Misdemeanor Be Elevated to a Felony?
In certain circumstances, a misdemeanor charge can be elevated to a felony. This is known as enhancement and some common reasons a misdemeanor is enhanced to a felony in Texas include the following:
- Prior convictions. Previous convictions for similar offenses can lead to a misdemeanor charge being enhanced to a felony. For example, if you have two prior DUI convictions and are charged with a third DUI, your charge can be elevated to a felony.
- Offense severity. If the offense is severe enough, it can be elevated to a felony. This could be true if you are charged with assault causing serious bodily injury, a Class A misdemeanor, but the victim required extensive surgery and care.
- Use of a weapon: If you use a deadly weapon during a crime, the charge can be elevated to a felony. So, an assault that could be a Class A misdemeanor may be enhanced if a knife was used during the assault.
If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor in Houston, it’s important to work with an experienced Houston criminal lawyer who understands the nuances of Texas law. A skilled attorney can challenge evidence, negotiate plea bargains, and protect your rights.
Is it possible your misdemeanor charge will be enhanced? Talk through your situation with the skilled legal team at Ayson Law Firm. Once an attorney is familiar with the details of your arrest, they can begin to build a defense. Contact Ayson Law today for a free consultation.