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Houston Misdemeanor Lawyer

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Houston Misdemeanor Lawyer
Houston Misdemeanor Lawyer

Misdemeanor Charges Defense Attorney in Houston, TX

The Texas Penal Code enforces strict and detailed statutes for various criminal offenses. Most offenses are separated into two categories based on the severity of those offenses. Lesser offenses are commonly charged as misdemeanors, while more severe offenses are prosecuted as felonies. However, while a misdemeanor is the lesser of the two possible designations an offense may have, do not assume that this translates to a light penalty. While misdemeanors have lesser punishment ranges than felonies, make no mistake about it: A misdemeanor conviction will follow you for the rest of your life and, as such, should be defended with the same dedication and zeal as a felony charge.

If you or a loved one is charged with any misdemeanor offense in Houston, TX, it’s vital to know your rights and how to build a defense against potential conviction. Misdemeanors can lead to various penalties, some of which can last longer and have a far greater long-term impact than others. Sometimes prosecutors use prior convictions to further enhance, or increase, the range of punishment. Any criminal conviction will cause a host of personal and professional consequences that can disrupt your life. Ultimately, no matter what your misdemeanor case entails, a Houston misdemeanor defense attorney is the best resource to consult when navigating your case as efficiently as possible.

The Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, has extensive professional experience in criminal defense law, and our firm has assisted many clients in the Houston area with complex and multifaceted criminal cases. If you are facing a misdemeanor charge, we will ensure your rights are preserved through all your interactions with the criminal justice system and that you have the support and guidance you need to make more informed decisions about your case.

Why Should I Hire a Houston Misdemeanor Lawyer?

Every American has the right to legal counsel when charged with a criminal offense. However, if a defendant does not wish to hire a private defense attorney or if they lack the means to do so, the court can provide a public defender to represent the defendant free of charge. While this may seem like a perfectly acceptable option for securing legal representation, if you can hire a private Houston misdemeanor lawyer, it is best to do so.

When you choose the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, to represent your defense, you can expect personalized attention from our team through every stage of your case. If there are any lapses in your proceedings, we will help you prepare for the next step in your case and help you make informed decisions along the way. In addition, we’ll review the details of your offense and help you determine the best defenses available to you.

Ultimately, you have the best chance of avoiding conviction and securing an acquittal when you have an experienced private criminal defense attorney handling your case. If you were wrongfully accused, they could help you prove your innocence, and if you broke the law and committed the offense in question, they may still be able to get the charge dismissed.

Types of Misdemeanor Cases We Handle in Houston, TX

When you need a criminal defense lawyer in Houston, TX, it’s vital to choose an attorney with solid experience handling cases like yours. Many types of offenses can qualify for misdemeanor prosecution, and the penalties for a conviction depend on the severity of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and other variables. The Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, can provide comprehensive defense representation in misdemeanor cases pertaining to:

  • Theft and property crimes. In Texas, theft can qualify as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the value of property or services stolen. Theft of $100 or less qualifies as a Class C misdemeanor with a penalty of fines up to $500 and damages to the victim. Theft is a Class B misdemeanor for stolen value of $100 and $750 if the defendant stole a government-issued I.D. or if the defendant has a prior theft conviction. The penalty for Class B misdemeanor theft is usually fines up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in county jail. The defendant will also be responsible for the victim’s losses. Theft is a Class A misdemeanor when the value stolen is more than $750 but less than $2,500. The punishment range for a Class A misdemeanor is one year in jail and/or a $4,000 fine.
  • Drug-related offenses. These are some of the most commonly prosecuted criminal offenses in the U.S., and the penalties for conviction hinge on the type and quantity of substance in question as well as the defendant’s criminal history. It’s possible for a defendant to avoid incarceration and other harsh penalties for a first offense, especially if they can prove they struggle with a substance abuse disorder. In addition, many judges are willing to consider alternative sentencing in these cases, such as conditional probation and mandatory substance abuse treatment instead of jail time.
  • Assault and violent crimes. Most crimes that result in bodily injury to another person qualify as felonies in Texas. However, some assault-related offenses only reach misdemeanor status and entail lighter penalties. The penalties for misdemeanor assault in Texas depend on various factors, and assault can be a Class A, B, or C misdemeanor depending on the severity of the offense. Class C misdemeanor assault is punishable by fines up to $500, and the judge may order additional penalties at their discretion. Class B misdemeanor assault will lead to fines up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in county jail. Class A misdemeanor assault can incur fines up to $4,000 and up to one year in county jail. In addition, if a defendant caused harm to a victim, they also face civil liability for the victim’s medical expenses and other damages.
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI). DWI offenses can qualify as felonies or misdemeanors depending on various factors. A first DWI offense is typically prosecuted as a Class B misdemeanor, and the defendant faces the loss of driving privileges, a fine of up to $2,000, and a jail sentence of up to 180 days. If the defendant’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) was above .15% or if they have a second DWI conviction, the charge escalates to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail. Some defendants convicted of DWI will also face mandatory substance abuse treatment and/or DWI education courses.
  • Sex offenses. Many sex crimes qualify as felonies in Texas, but many sex-related offenses only reach misdemeanor status. Lewd acts in public and prostitution are two of the most commonly prosecuted misdemeanor sex crimes in the Houston area. Penalties for misdemeanor sex offenses often include fines and jail time. However, some offenses may require registration as a sex offender, potentially for life. Sex offender status can prohibit you from working in certain fields and living in certain areas.

Beyond the penalties assigned by the Texas Penal Code, any misdemeanor offense involving harm to a victim is likely to lead to civil liabilities for the defendant. For example, if the defendant caused a physical injury, the victim could file a personal injury claim seeking compensation for their medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages. It’s also possible for the judge issuing the defendant’s sentence in their criminal case to include restitution to the victim as an element of the final sentence.

Your Houston misdemeanor attorney will help you determine the best defense options available to you. It’s vital to understand the laws of due process and the Texas statutes that are likely to apply to your case. Your attorney can also evaluate your criminal record to determine if you have cause for concern regarding enhanced penalties in light of your past offenses.

Defending Against Misdemeanor Charges in Houston, TX

Do not assume that just because a criminal charge is a misdemeanor that it is a minor issue. Any misdemeanor can entail harsher penalties than you expect and interfere with your life in various ways for years to come. If you find yourself facing any misdemeanor charge in Houston, take full advantage of your right to remain silent after arrest until you can speak with an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney. The sooner you secure defense counsel, the better they can represent you in your criminal case proceedings.

The criminal justice system of the U.S. hinges on the concept of “innocent unless proven guilty.” The defendant in a criminal case is not responsible for proving they are innocent; the prosecution has the burden of proving the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors must effectively leverage physical evidence, witness testimony, and other factors to convince the jury that the defendant committed the offense in question.

While the burden of proof rests with the prosecution, you should not take this to mean you can sit idle, hoping the prosecution’s case falls apart on its own. Instead, you should be as proactive as possible in your defense, especially if you have been wrongfully accused of a misdemeanor offense you did not commit. For example, mistaken identity, a false accusation, or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time could lead to an arrest for a misdemeanor. An experienced Houston misdemeanor defense lawyer can help their client establish an alibi or provide exculpatory evidence that contradicts their accuser’s statements.

While the prosecution’s job is to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defense attorney’s job is to prevent the prosecution from accomplishing this. Even if the prosecution has evidence and testimony to support their side of the case, a good defense lawyer will know how to highlight procedural violations and administrative missteps that diminish the credibility of a prosecutor’s case.

When the prosecution has enough evidence to secure a conviction, they may be inclined to offer a plea deal to the defendant. If the defendant pleads guilty during arraignment, the case proceeds to sentencing, and the court can conserve considerable resources. The prosecution may agree to exchange a guilty plea and swifter court proceedings for a lighter sentence and/or reduced charges. If the state’s evidence is overwhelming, a plea deal could be the best option available to you. Your Houston misdemeanor attorney can help you determine if a plea deal is reasonable and suits your best interests, and negotiate the most favorable terms possible.

What to Expect From Your Houston Misdemeanor Defense Lawyer

Any criminal conviction can impact your future in various ways. You may not only face incarceration in county jail, fines, and restitution to any victims your actions harmed, but also various personal and professional consequences. For example, a criminal conviction could disqualify you from holding certain professional licenses, and you would need to find an entirely new line of work. Your criminal record can also interfere with future job prospects as potential employers will be unlikely to hire any applicant they deem a risk to their businesses.

An experienced Houston misdemeanor lawyer can provide ongoing support in your criminal case. At the early stages of your case, they can identify any due process violations or offenses against your constitutional or civil rights. If any such details come into play in your case, they could be sufficient for securing a case dismissal. Next, your attorney will advise you through arraignment and pleading, and if a plea deal is offered, they will negotiate it on your behalf. When a criminal case proceeds to litigation, the defense attorney has the vital task of preparing their client for each court appearance. They will also present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and argue on behalf of their client’s rights.

The Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, has years of experience representing clients in the Houston, TX, area in a wide range of misdemeanor cases. We understand the stress and uncertainty that can follow an arrest for any criminal charge, and our goal is to help every client we represent approach their case with peace of mind. The sooner you speak with an attorney after your arrest, the more likely you are to secure a favorable outcome for your case. To discuss your legal options with a reliable Houston misdemeanor defense attorney, contact the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, today and schedule your consultation with our team. We’ve tried over 335 jury trials.

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