What Happens if I am Charged with Theft?
According to the Texas Penal Code, theft encompasses a wide range of offenses which can include shoplifting clothes from a store, stealing a car, or a variety of other situations. But they all boil down to knowingly taking someone’s property with the intent to deprive them of that property. You don’t have to keep the property for a long-time, or keep it at all, in order to have committed theft.
Since theft encompasses a wide range of things, which can be worth a little, or worth a lot, it makes sense that the key factor in determining punishment for theft relies upon 1) what type of property was stolen, and 2) how much the property is actually worth. These factors will determine the category or degree of theft charges that the accused person may face.
In the state of Texas, the punishment for theft varies as follows:
- Less than $50.00, or less than $20.00 if by check: Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500.00.
- $50.00 – $500.00, or $20.00 – $500.00 if by check: Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a jail sentence of up to 180 days, and/or a fine up to $2,000.00.
- $500.00 – $1,500.00: Class A misdemeanor, with a jail sentence up to one year, and/or a fine up to $4,000.00.
- $1,500.00 – $20,000.00: Felony, with a state jail sentence of 180 days to two years, and/or a fine up to $10,000.00.
- $20,000.00 – $100,000.00: Third-degree felony, with a state prison sentence of two to 10 years, and/or a fine up to $10,000.00.
- $100,000.00 – $200,000.00: Second-degree felony, with a state prison sentence of two to 20 years, and/or a fine up to $10,000.00.
- $200,000.00 or more: First-degree felony, with a state prison sentence of five to 99 years, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.00.
As you can see, the theft of property with a relatively small value may constitute a misdemeanor charge, whereas stealing something worth more than $1,500 may constitute a felony charge along with substantial jail time and a hefty fine.
These charges can be aggravated if you’ve previously been charged with theft, for instance if you stole a $20 video game but have previously been charged, then you would be facing a Class B misdemeanor, rather than a Class A. Charges involving either guns or metal are automatically a felony charge.
If you are facing theft charges, then it is important that you work with a qualified criminal defense attorney. The main defenses raised in these situations are to establish a lower value in order to reduce the punishment. But depending on your circumstances, even a misdemeanor charge can lead to long term complications in your life, which is why having a professional on your side can mean the difference between an inconvenience and a disaster.
If you’ve been charged with theft in Texas, then you need to contact the team at Fears Nachawati today. In order to schedule your free, no-obligation legal consultation at one of our offices located throughout the state of Texas, including in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin, please call (866) 705-7584.