When a misdemeanor offense is committed, local law enforcement agencies make an investigation, collect evidence, including witness statements, prepare offense reports and bring them to the Office of Criminal District Attorney, Misdemeanor Intake Section. In our intake process, an investigator and an attorney review the cases to ensure that the elements of the offense are met and, if they are, the case is filed by means of a document called a Complaint and Information.
The Misdemeanor Section consists of seven prosecutors and six secretaries. The prosecutors are assigned to the County Courts to prosecute misdemeanor criminal offenses that occur in Hidalgo County. In these courts, the prosecutors handle docket calls, pre-trial matters, pleas before the court, revocations, jury trials, court trials, post-trial habeas corpus matters and motions for new trial. When the attorneys are not in the courtroom, they review and prepare the cases for court by performing many duties, including locating witnesses and interviewing witnesses and reviewing evidence. Some attorneys also are assigned to make appearances in several Justice of the Peace Courts to handle contested criminal matters.
Misdemeanors are divided into three categories according to their level of seriousness:
- Class A Misdemeanors carry a punishment of a fine not to exceed $4,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year, or by both.
- Class B Misdemeanors carry a punishment of a fine not to exceed $2,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days, or by both.
- Class C Misdemeanors carry a punishment of a fine not to exceed $500.