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: