If you face misdemeanor charges, you may believe that it’s only a minor note on your record and nothing to worry about. However, depending on the offense, it could affect your ability to qualify for a loan, limit your earning potential and where you live in Texas.
According to the American Bar Association, collateral consequences are legal restrictions and sanctions imposed due to your criminal record. These penalties often become barriers that prevent you from achieving your goals and living the life you want.
Direct consequences of a misdemeanor
Misdemeanors have three different categories in Texas. Class C misdemeanors have the lowest level penalties. Typically, there is no jail time, and fines go up to $500. They include public intoxication, gambling and disorderly conduct. Class B misdemeanors may result in up to three months in jail and fines up to $2,000. Examples include possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, indecent exposure and driving while intoxicated.
Class A misdemeanors carry penalties of up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of up to $4,000. They include a second DWI offense, evading arrest on foot, violation of a protective order and assault with bodily injury.
Collateral consequences of a misdemeanor
Although the direct consequences of a misdemeanor conviction last a year or less, the collateral consequences can affect the rest of your life. Depending on the details of your case, your conviction may result in one or more of the following:
- Restriction or registration of your residence
- Prohibition on having a business license
- Exclusion from government contracts and programs
- Restriction on child custody
- Prohibition on owning firearms
If you accept a plea deal that keeps you out of jail, the guilty verdict stands, and you must still live with the results of a conviction. Understanding your options and their consequences is critical for protecting your rights and moving forward with your life.