General information article on traffic tickets and other violations filed in the Justice of the Peace and Municipal Courts in Texas.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What Is A Class "C" Misdemeanor In Texas? What Is The Statute Of Limitations For A Class "C" Misdemeanor In Texas?

What is a Class"C" misdemeanor in Texas?

In Texas, a Class "C" misdemeanor is an offense punishable by fine only. It is classified as a criminal offense, but it is the least serious criminal offense. Generally, citations issued for traffic and other violations, with a date to appear in court at a later time, fall into this category. Although such violations are "fine only" offenses, there may be other consequences. Paying the fine results in a conviction. A conviction on some violations may result in points on your driving record, surcharges, license suspension, higher insurance rates or other unintended consequences.

What is the statute of limitations for a Class "C" misdemeanor in Texas?

In Texas, the statute of limitations for a Class "C" misdemeanor is two years. Be aware that this does not mean that traffic ticket violations and other Class"C" misdemeanors that are two years or older cannot be prosecuted. What it does mean is that if the offense is two years old, and a complaint has never been filed, then it is barred by the statute of limitations, and cannot be prosecuted. The complaint is not the citation issued by the officer. The complaint is a formal sworn document which meets the requirements of Chapter 45, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Only the filing of the complaint stops or tolls the statute of limitations. So, if a violation occurs and two years elapse without the complaint being filed, then it is barred from prosecution. On the other hand, If a complaint is filed within two years of the violation date, even if it is filed on the last day of the two year period, then it can still be prosecuted even after two years from the date of the violation.

Are all traffic violations in Texas classified as Class "C" misdemeanors?

No. Not all traffic violations in Texas are classified as Class "C" misdemeanors. Serious traffic violations where there is personal injury, property damage or intoxication involved may be classified as Class "A" or "B" misdemeanors or Felonies and punishable by fines and jail time. Also, automated traffic ticket violations such as red light camera violations are civil instead of criminal, and are therefore not Class "C" misdemeanors.

Charles French was licensed to practice law in Texas in 1991. The majority of his practice includes the Justice of the Peace and Municipal Courts in Houston, Harris County and surrounding counties. You may visit his website by going to:


  1. What I would like to know, is if all traffic violations are class C misdemeanors, and class c is defined only in the penal code, penalty prescribed specifically to be fine only in that code...then how is it that the state and judges get away with handing out confinement if you can't pay the fines, using punishments prescribed in the transportation code and not the penal code? Is a class c misdemeanor somehow different in the transportation code, and how do they get away with that when the punishments are more serious in the trans code than the penal code!? Usurpers...

  2. A person convicted convicted of a Class "C" misdemeanor may only be assessed a fine as punishment. The judgement may read something like "the defendant is ordered to pay a fine of $100".

    A person convicted of a more serious crime, such as a Class "B" misdemeanor, may be assessed a fine or jail or both. The judgement may read something like "the defendant is ordered to pay $1500 and serve 120 days in jail".

    The difference is that jail time cannot be assessed as part of the sentencing for a Class "C" misdemeanor conviction.

    If a defendant, convicted of a Class "C" misdemeanor, fails to pay the assessed fine, then the convicting court may issue a capias pro fine. A capias pro fine is a warrant authorized under Chapter 43, Code of Criminal Procedure, to bring the defendant before the court. If the fine is not paid, the defendant is jailed until they have served enough time to satisfy the amount owed.

    1. So let me get this straight. A fine only offense is not punishable by jail unless you're poor?

    2. So let me get this straight. A fine only offense is not punishable by jail unless you're poor?

    3. I already knew they WERE jailing people on class C misdemeanors. I was asking HOW they get the authority, since there's nothing in law that would allow it from what I have seen. The statutes clearly stated "fine only". Now, "only" either means "only", or it doesn't. SO essentially, even though they're barred by statute from doing so, and the Texas Constitution clearly prohibits debtors prisons, they're consistently violating the law, the Constitution, and the rights of the people. A municipal judge, honestly, is not a judicial magistrate. He's an administrative judge who serves in a quasi-court, employed directly by the corporation who is the adversarial party in the complaint against you. He has a vested interest in you being found guilty, and the whole municipal courts system is an unconstitutional sham.

  3. How can I find out if a complaint has been filed on a class "C" misdemeanor?

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  5. Thank you Mr. French. It is my understanding that the new law prohibiting laser jammers falls under this Class "C" category. Would confiscation of the equipment go along with a fine for this infraction?

  6. i went to jail because of 3 warrants 1 for speeding 1 for no DL and one for not Insurance. is that a misdemeanor??

  7. Thats great. i chose got the right one information at the right time for the right situation. thanks for sharing.
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  8. I a ticket almost 2 year in Texas,90 on 75 while on a journey. Though I'm still amaze how that could had happen but because of the distance to the court, I paid the fine anyway. The question; "Have you ever been convicted of a crime" Yes or No.

  9. My son received a violation for possession of parafanalia. He was the driver. His friend was arrested for pot and had a bong in his possession.They gave my son s ticket also. Should I fight it or pay it?

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