If you have received a citation from a municipal court, it is important to handle it carefully and quickly. There are serious collateral consequences that come with Class C misdemeanor convictions, so it is usually unwise to just pay the fine. Traffic tickets and other Class C misdemeanor offenses are typically handled in the city municipal courts or at the local justice of the peace.
If left ignored or forgotten, these citations will turn into warrants for your arrest, which could ultimately land you in jail. In addition, if you are convicted or just pay the fine, you may face (1) major costs related to license suspensions (and occupational driver’s license expenses), (2) consequences related to your concealed carry / concealed handgun permit, (3) severe penalties related to your immigration status, (4) limited future employment opportunities and many other possible consequences.
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Our Municipal Court Litigation practice focuses on technically complex and high-stakes Class C misdemeanor representation, including assault, family violence assault, and traffic offenses that may impact your ability to drive. Remember that paying a citation WILL RESULT IN A CONVICTION. So before you just pay it, call us to discuss fighting the ticket. We are also able to help you remove records of the ticket from your criminal record through the process of expunction.
Typical Class C Misdemeanors in the Municipal and JP Courts include:
Some less common Class C Misdemeanors include:
This is not a complete list. There are many Class C Misdemeanors in Texas, and there are many matters that may be handled as municipal court tickets.
Texas limits the “criminal” punishment for Class C Misdemeanors to a $500 fine. However, convictions for certain offenses can have vast and more detrimental collateral consequences. Even convictions for simple traffic offenses for instance can result in surcharges on your license, increased insurance rates, and outright license suspension. Accruing multiple convictions for driving with a suspended or revoked license can also be upgraded to a Class B Misdemeanor, with increased penalties and potential jail time of up to 180 days.
Class C Misdemeanor Assault convictions or pleas that have findings of “family violence” carry much more dire consequences. These consequences include losing the right to possess a firearm, adoption or custody restrictions, and pose serious immigration implications for non-citizens. Additionally if you are charged with a subsequent assault against a “family member,” it can be filed as a felony charge.
In all cases, convictions for municipal court tickets or any Class C offense can be seen by potential employers, leasing agents, and educational institutions. Although they are not serious felony offenses that would automatically bar you from certain activities, they can and almost always will still be considered when screening an applicant.
For these reasons it is paramount that you have an attorney who will address all of your personal circumstances when handling your cases.
If you were issued a citation and were given a court date or deadline to make an appearance and have missed it, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest. These warrants are actively enforced and any subsequent contact with law enforcement would likely result in your arrest.
Fortunately, Texas law enables attorneys to lift these warrants with attorney bonds in some cases. Both capias warrants and warrants issued for missing court dates can be lifted by an attorney without you having to post the full cash bond amount. This saves you the worry of being arrested at any moment and allows you to avoid paying the full bond amount.
We can lift your warrant and represent you in every aspect of your case to work toward the best possible outcome.
All cases in the municipal courts and JP courts, including traffic offenses, are considered Class C Misdemeanors and treated like any other criminal offense with regards to criminal history records. Once a charge has been filed it becomes a part of your criminal history record. This means a case at any point of its disposition will be reflected on your criminal records. Even if it has been dismissed or you are found not guilty, the records relating to your case will be available for the public to view unless you take special corrective action.
Class C Citations have exclusive provisions for record clearing and sealing. Cases resulting in a not guilty, a standard dismissal or dismissed by deferred adjudication may be eligible for complete expunction. This would clear and seal your record as if you had never been charged with the offense in the first place. We can handle your expunction as well.
The city municipal court and county JP courts also enforce city ordinance violations. These ordinances are set by the city and govern public health or sanitation. These cases are also punishable by fine only, however the maximum penalties are not capped at $500. In many instances the maximum fines can reach $2000. Common offenses in this category include fire code, animal control, storm water management, and transportation for hire violations.
If you are driving for Uber, Lyft, or any similar service you may be required to obtain an operating permit and driver permit. This is a city requirement, and though not all cities have this ordinance, some do (Dallas, for instance does require these permits1). You will be required to have a permit affixed to your vehicle as well as a permit that you carry on your person. Additionally, if you operate your transportation for hire services in the DFW Airport you will need to acquire a third specific permit.
These permits do take time to be processed and often times people are waiting months to be approved to drive transportation for hire vehicles. In many instances Uber and Lyft do not inform their contractors about these requirements and encourage them to go work as soon as possible. As long as the drivers are working the company is making money. However, if you receive a citation for not having the required permits, you are solely responsible for paying the fines. These fines can reach up to $500, not including court costs.
Similar to the Transportation for Hire violation, the Transportation for Hire – Pickup from Unauthorized Area violation is a city ordinance that applies primarily to Uber and Lyft drivers.