Being convicted of a crime in Houston is no laughing matter. Generally, crimes are classified as either felonies or misdemeanors. Felonies are the more serious of the two and are can result in prison time served in a state penitentiary, according to the Free Dictionary. On the other hand, misdemeanors are considered more minor crimes. If the sentence calls for jail, the term is usually shorter than one year and is served at a county jail. Some misdemeanor convictions involve only the payment of fines.
However, this does not mean that being convicted of a misdemeanor is something that should be taken lightly. A conviction can stick with a person for the rest of their life and cause problems in ways that he or she may not have foreseen, even if not a single night was spent in jail.
TIME Magazine reports that people with misdemeanor convictions may find themselves ineligible for many important things, such as loans, access to housing and certain jobs. Having it removed from one’s record is not an easy proposition. Criminal records can be expunged in certain circumstances; however, doing so on the state level is difficult. If the misdemeanor conviction was for a federal crime, the only remedy is a pardon from the President.
Part of the problem is perception. While a felony conviction is much more serious than a misdemeanor conviction, in the eyes of many, they are treated exactly the same. Because many high-profile cases involve felonies, efforts aimed at reforming the criminal justice system also only focus on felonies and ignore those convicted of lesser crimes. So while the crime itself and the associated penalties may only be minor, the implications of being convicted of a misdemeanor can be far-reaching and long lasting.