A conviction for a Class B misdemeanor carries up to 180 days in county jail. Defendants can also be made to pay a fine of up to $2,000. These penalties can increase if the offense is enhanced.
Some examples of Class B misdemeanors in Texas are:
- Indecent exposure (Penal Code 21.08),
- Enticing a child (Penal Code 25.04), and
- Theft of between $100 and $750 (Penal Code 31.03).
1. What are Class B misdemeanors?
Class B misdemeanors are a class of crime. As misdemeanors, they are:
- more severe than an infraction, and
- less severe than a felony.
Class B misdemeanors are also the middle range of the misdemeanor class. They are:
- more severe than Class C misdemeanors, and
- less severe than Class A misdemeanors.
Just because they are not felonies, though, does not make these offenses trivial. They can carry steep fines. A conviction can also send a defendant to jail. If the offense is enhanced to a more serious crime, those penalties increase.
2. What are the penalties of a conviction?
A conviction for a Class B misdemeanor carries the following penalties:
- up to 180 days in county jail, and/or
- up to $2,000 in fines.
There is a 30-day mandatory minimum jail sentence if the defendant has a prior conviction for:
- a felony, or
- a Class A or Class B misdemeanor.1
There are also collateral consequences of a conviction. These penalties are often hidden. They can take many forms. The most common collateral consequences of a conviction for a Class B misdemeanor are:
- difficulties finding a job with a blemished criminal background,
- becoming ineligible for certain forms of financial assistance, and
- struggling to find an apartment with a prior offense.
3. Can Class B misdemeanors be enhanced?
In some cases, Class B misdemeanors can be enhanced into more severe crime classifications. This can raise the penalties of a conviction. In some cases, the charge can become a felony.
How a Class B misdemeanor gets enhanced depends on the offense. Examples include:
- theft of between $100 and $750 becomes a Class A misdemeanor if the victim was a nonprofit (Penal Code 31.03(f)), and
- assault becomes a Class A misdemeanor if committed in a disaster area (Penal Code 12.50).
Most enhanced Class B misdemeanors become Class A misdemeanors. These come with the following penalties:
- up to 1 year in county jail, and/or
- up to $4,000 in fines.
The penalties also increase if drugs were used or if the offense was committed out of prejudice or bias. The penalties of a conviction become as high as:
- 1 year in county jail, and/or
- $4,000 in fines.2
4. Is probation a possibility?
Probation is possible for Class B misdemeanor convictions.
Probation is a type of criminal sentence. It is also known as community supervision. It is an alternative to jail. Rather than being closely monitored in jail, defendants can be supervised in the community.
Under probation, supervision happens through the terms and conditions of release. These terms of probation are often very strict. They depend on the criminal offense and the defendant's prior record. However, common terms of probation tend to include:
- regular meetings with a probation officer,
- maintaining steady employment,
- paying restitution to the victims of the offense,
- paying court costs, attorney's fees, and probation fees,
- completing drug or alcohol treatment plans,
- not getting into legal trouble or getting arrested, again, and
- community service.
These terms of probation can be steep. They can take lots of time and effort. Failing to complete any of them can lead to probation being revoked. If a judge revokes probation, he or she can:
- send the probationer to jail, or
- make the terms of probation even stricter.
Some sentences of probation come in the form of deferred adjudication. In these cases, the judge has held off a guilty verdict while the defendant pursues probation. If probation gets revoked in deferred adjudication cases, the case skips to sentencing. All of the time that the defendant spent in probation is lost.
5. What are some examples of Class B misdemeanors?
Examples of Class B misdemeanors in Texas include:
- Criminal mischief causing $100 to $750 in damage (Penal Code 28.03(b)(2)),
- Criminal trespass (Penal Code 30.05),
- Issuing a bad check for child support (Penal Code 32.41),
- Making a false police report (Penal Code 37.08),
- Possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana (Health and Safety Code 481.121(b)(1)),
- Disorderly conduct (Penal Code 42.01), and
- Attempted Class A misdemeanors (Penal Code 15.01).
Texas Penal Code § 12.43(b).
Texas Penal Code § 12.47(a) and 12.49.