Most people have a basic understanding of how crimes are organized in the classification of offenses under Texas law, which separates them into misdemeanors and felonies. Each category in turn breaks down into three levels of misdemeanor and multiple degrees of felony, but the basic distinction revolves around punishment. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you will not be incarcerated for more than one year; for a felony other than a state jail felony, you will go to prison for at least one year.
Still, what you may not know is that Texas has numerous offenses that are considered “wobblers”, i.e., they could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony under specific conditions. When you do not have a strong case for getting the charges dropped, reducing a wobbler is obviously a strategy you will want to discuss with a Houston misdemeanor crimes defense lawyer. It is also useful to understand what crimes are wobblers and some basics about the process.
How Wobblers Work in Texas
There are a few offenses defined under state law that are designated as a Class A Misdemeanor, the most serious crime in this category. In the presence of certain circumstances, the same offense is bumped up a notch to become a Third Degree Felony. Some of these circumstances mandate that the crime be treated as a felony, while others allow the prosecutor to exercise discretion in determining whether to press misdemeanor charges.
The facts of the case, type of crime, and your criminal history are a few considerations the prosecution may assess when deciding how to proceed with a wobbler. Some of the most common offenses that could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony include:
- Marijuana possession;
- Bail and probation violations;
- Violating a protective order;
- Theft of items valued at $500 and above;
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and
- Many others.
Penalties for a Misdemeanor Conviction in Texas
If you are able to get misdemeanor charges for a wobbler crime, you should be aware of the punishment you face for a conviction. You will typically be facing a Class A Misdemeanor, which could lead to a maximum jail sentence up to one year, a $4,000 fine, or both. However, you will not lose certain civil rights that you would for a felony conviction.
Keep in mind that there are still strategies for fighting the charges. Though you are facing a lesser charge for a wobbler, you might be able to plea bargain to a Class B Misdemeanor. You might be facing just 180 days of incarceration and a $2,000 fine. Note that there is no jail time for a Class C Misdemeanor, though the fine could be up to $500.
Consult with a Houston Misdemeanor Crimes Defense Attorney
While you can certainly see the benefits of reducing a wobbler to a misdemeanor, it is still important to prepare a proper defense to the lesser charges. Our team at the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates can advise you on the relevant concepts, so please call (281) 280-0100 or go online to schedule a consultation with an experienced lawyer today.