17 Consequences You Can Face with a Criminal Conviction in Texas
Most people understand that there are significant consequences of criminal conviction. Though the penalties for a criminal conviction will likely depend on the severity of the crime, there are many consequences other than the obvious one of the sentence that the court will impose on you.
Sometimes people mistakenly believe having a misdemeanor conviction will not impact them as much as having a felony conviction. That is not necessarily true. Though some job applications will ask you if you have ever had a felony conviction, many job applications will ask you if you have ever been convicted of a crime. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony, you will need to answer “yes” and usually need to explain the circumstances.
Having any type of criminal conviction can impact your ability to get ahead, meaning that your earning potential could be limited. This has a number of ramifications which could impact your personal sense of self-worth as well as putting a strain on any relationships you may have because of the pressures of paying bills or being able to financially maintain a certain economic status. The team of criminal defense lawyers at Morales & Sparks is dedicated to providing top-notch defense for your cases. Learn more about what a criminal conviction can cost without proper legal counsel in Texas.
1. Pardoning for Convictions of Misdemeanors
One of the lesser-known consequences of a misdemeanor conviction is the ability to receive a pardon. The U.S. government is working towards reducing the number of people in prisons as well as the non-criminal penalties for those who are convicted of felonies. Because there is so much focus on felonies, the consequences for misdemeanors often go overlooked. The Department of Justice only has limited resources which are more likely to be used to review felony convictions.
Though there are a number of groups that are reviewing how people with felony convictions are disenfranchised, they don’t usually look at the impact of misdemeanor convictions.
2. Fines and Jail Time for Convictions
While jail time and fines are specific to the state in which the crime took place, Texas fines for convictions of misdemeanors are up to $4,000, with the possibility of serving up to one year in jail. These maximum fines and jail time apply to Class A misdemeanors. The penalties for Class B misdemeanors are not over 180 days in county jail and no fines greater than $2,000. For class C misdemeanors, the penalties are not more than a $500 fine.
Penalties for felonies in Texas are much greater than misdemeanor penalties.
- Execution is the penalty for a capital felony
- Up to life imprisonment and a $10,000 fine for first-degree felony
- Up to 20 years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine for second-degree felony
- Up to ten years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine for third-degree felony
- And up to two years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine for a state jail felony
Texas penalties for criminal convictions are often dependent upon the previous criminal record, the judge who is making the decision, and the circumstances surrounding the case.
A very capable criminal defense attorney in TX will argue for and work to get you the best possible sentence. That is one of the reasons why you will want to use a private attorney rather than a court-appointed attorney. Court-appointed attorneys, or public defenders, are often inexperienced attorneys who have just graduated from law school and don’t have the knowledge and expertise to be able to get you the least restrictive sentence.
If you are able to hire a competent professional criminal defense lawyer in TX, they might be able to achieve a sentence of probation for you especially if the crime for which you have been charged is your very first conviction.
Probation is also known as community supervision which means that your jail or prison time has been suspended in lieu of you completing your probation which usually means that you will need to report in to your probation officer periodically as designated by the court. You will also likely need to hold a job and pay court costs and another restitution that has been court ordered.
The regular probationary term for a serious misdemeanor in Texas can be up to two years. This means that, for a misdemeanor conviction for which you receive the full probationary period, there is the possibility that you could be released from probation after you serve at least one-third of your probationary term. However, if you are not released from probation early, you could have your life completely disrupted for a period of two years.
3. Increased Penalties Imposed Upon Rearrest
If you are ever arrested for another crime following a misdemeanor conviction, you may suffer much harsher penalties for your second arrest. For example, in Texas, if you have a misdemeanor conviction for assault which causes bodily injury in a family violence situation and you are rearrested for the same charge, you may be facing a third-degree felony.
4. Misdemeanor Convictions and Getting a Job
Many employers have a policy where they will not hire anyone with a criminal record, regardless of whether that record has been obtained through a misdemeanor conviction or a felony conviction. Sometimes employment is prohibited based upon the type of the crime rather than the severity. For instance, an employer may have a prohibition against hiring an employee who has been convicted of a crime which involved fraud, violent behavior or theft. If you have committed a misdemeanor or felony and are convicted, you run the risk of losing earning potential and ending or slowing down your potential career growth.
5. Difficulty of College Admission
If you are applying to college or graduate school, you may find that colleges don’t want to admit you even if your conviction is for a misdemeanor. Though each college has different policies, there is a good possibility that you will not be admitted if you have either a misdemeanor or felony conviction on your record.
6. Obtaining Financial Aid for College
If you are admitted to college and need financial aid to be able to attend, you may be unable to obtain that financial aid through the U.S. Department of Education Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You may be unable to obtain the financial aid if you have a criminal record for a drug- or sexual-related offense.
7. Losing Custody of Your Children
Conviction of a Class A or Class B misdemeanor in Texas has particularly serious consequences, as you could lose custody of your children. The likelihood of this occurring is much greater if your offense is related to the family in some way.
8. Being a Foster Parent or Adopting
Not only could you lose custody of your biological children, but if you want to adopt or foster children in the future, you may not be allowed to do so. In Texas, you will not be able to adopt a child even if you have committed a misdemeanor offense which involves the family, failure to report the sexual abuse of a child, solicitation of a minor, robbery or public indecency.
If you have committed crimes involving the Texas Controlled Substances Act, offenses involving alcohol or allowing a child to have access to a firearm, you will not be allowed to adopt if that crime was committed within the previous ten years.
9. Immigration Statuses Changes Leading to Deportation
If you are someone who has worked hard to be able to come to the United States for a job and are have begun the process of obtaining a green card, you may be risking everything you have invested in that with a seemingly simple misdemeanor conviction.
Getting a green card is often a long process which can become expensive as you continually renew your non-immigrant visa in order to have the opportunity to apply for a green card, which can take many years depending on your country of citizenship.
With a misdemeanor conviction on your record, you are not only risking your chance at getting a green card, but you’re also risking the chance that you will lose your livelihood and good job in the U.S. to face deportation. This is not only an embarrassing process, but you and your family could also possibly lose the lifestyle and friendships you have developed since moving to the U.S.
10. Limitation on Eligibility for Certain Licenses
If you have studied and worked towards a profession that requires you to have a license in order to practice it, you may have just thrown away your ability to practice that profession with a misdemeanor conviction.
College students who plan on careers in nursing or other healthcare professions in most states and in the state of Texas are unable to practice their professions unless they are licensed. And even if you have a misdemeanor conviction, you may be prohibited from obtaining a license for many healthcare professions, depending upon the circumstances of your conviction.
That is why it is important to obtain excellent legal representation after being charged with a misdemeanor or felony, so that the attorney can guide you through the legal process to help you achieve the best outcome. They can also advise you on how to minimize the impact of your conviction so that it will have the least effect on your ability to obtain licensure.
11. Federal and State Assistance
In some states, you may not be able to obtain food stamp Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance (TANF) or government subsidized housing if you have a felony or even a misdemeanor conviction. Texas will permit you to obtain SNAP benefits unless you violate your parole or are convicted of another charge related to drugs.
12. Driver’s License Suspension
It is possible to lose your driver’s license in Texas if you are convicted of a misdemeanor if it involves drugs or controlled substances. You could lose your license for up to 180 days, in addition to being required to complete a 15-hour class on drug education. If you don’t complete the drug education class, your driver’s license will be revoked beyond the original 180-day period. This will remain in effect and will be noted on your driver’s license until the Texas Department of Public Safety obtains the certificate indicating that you completed the class.
Additionally, you will need to pay a fee because you have failed to complete the course as originally required. And if you didn’t have a driver’s license at the time you committed the offense, you could be denied the ability to get a driver’s license for up to 180 days. The 180-day period begins when you contact the Texas Department of Public Safety and complete the required forms.
13. DWI Penalties for Minors
Anyone who is under 21 in Texas is considered a minor. If you are a minor and are discovered driving with any amount of alcohol in your system, you may face a number of penalties for a first offense. These penalties include: fines, loss of the privilege to drive, probation, forced enrollment in an alcohol education class, mandatory use of ignition interlock and community services.
With additional offenses, the penalties become greater. The minor may even serve jail time if the commit additional offenses.
14. Penalties for Adult DUIs
The penalties imposed for DUIs in Texas are dependent upon whether the offense is the first or a subsequent offense.
For the first offense, the fines for DUI conviction are up to $2,000, with a possibility of incarceration for up to 180 days. The license suspension period is up to two years, and you may be charged an annual fee of $2,000 in order to keep your license for three years. You may also be required to install an ignition interlock on your car, as well and attend DWI educational classes.
For the second offense, the fines increase up to $4,000, and the jail time increases to one year. License suspension can last up to two years, and you may have the annual surcharge of $2,000 for a three-year period to keep your license. The penalties with regards to the ignition interlock and the educational courses are the same as for the first offense.
Three or more offenses can result in fines up to $10,000 with between two and ten years’ incarceration. License suspension and surcharge are the same as for previous offenses. The ignition interlock and educational courses are the same as for previous offenses.
15. Impact on Ability to Obtain Housing
It is not uncommon for landlords in Texas to disclose that they will not rent to you if you have had a criminal conviction within a certain number of years. Often, they will delineate the type of conviction they are referencing, such as those involving property, prostitution or drugs.
And if the conviction was relating to sexual crimes, it doesn’t matter how long ago it occurred or whether it was a misdemeanor or felony. The landlord may still refuse to rent to tenants with adverse criminal histories.
16. Registration as a Sex Offender
If you have committed a misdemeanor or felony crime of a sexual nature, the Texas courts may require you to register as a sex offender. Registering as a sex offender has life-long implications. This will impact your ability to get a job or home, and even to maintain friendships or other relationships.
Most people don’t want a registered sex offender living in their neighborhood. If they discover that you are a registered sex offender, not only will you be a social pariah, but life in your neighborhood will probably also no longer be pleasant for you. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old — people are not usually very forgiving when it comes to charges that result in someone being required to register as a sex offender.
17. Ability to Purchase a Handgun
In the state of Texas, if you have any felony or a misdemeanor Class A conviction, you will not be able to have a handgun in your possession.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has the authority to issue a license to those who are authorized to carry one. You will not be granted a license for a number of reasons, which includes having a Class A misdemeanor or felony conviction, a history of drug or alcohol addiction, a history of mental illness, or if you are behind on tax payments or child support.
Criminal Charges — What’s Next?
Clearly, having a misdemeanor or felony conviction has the potential for greatly impacting your life in a variety of ways. This is why it is very important to obtain excellent legal advice from professionals if you are charged with a crime. You want to hire a private attorney, not merely court-appointed attorneys.
The attorneys at Morales & Sparks will make you a priority when representing you in order to provide you with the best defense possible. Contact Morales & Sparks for a consultation today.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to provide general information and is not to be constituted as legal advice. If you need help with a specific issue, please seek the advice of an attorney.