Like most state laws, Texas law defines many variations of theft, including shoplifting, writing bad checks, embezzlement, and purchasing or receiving stolen property. Theft charges carry the possibility of harsh sanctions, especially when they involve items of high value. If you are facing theft charges, it is in your best interest to contact a Frisco theft lawyer for guidance and advice.
A permanent black mark on your criminal record can be damaging to your future. A theft conviction could impact your ability to find employment, seek better housing, and pursue educational opportunities. Fortunately, a seasoned criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you build a strong defense and preserve your future.
Theft consists of any unlawful and intentional appropriation of property designed to deprive the owners of that property. Tex. Pen. Code § 31.03 offers various examples of what constitutes theft, as well as the applicable charges and penalties. Most types of theft are consolidated into the single theft offense under Texas law, except for theft of services, theft of trade secrets, and theft by check, which remain separate criminal offenses.
Appropriation of property occurs when individuals transfer property to themselves or others, or when they acquire or exercise control over the property. In this context, “property” refers to personal property, not real estate property. Appropriation of property is unlawful in the following circumstances:
Another essential element of theft is consent. The owners of the property or the legally authorized representatives of the owners are the only persons who can permit appropriation. As a theft lawyer in Frisco may advise, there also is not valid consent in certain circumstances, such as when individuals obtain consent through deception or coercion, or when persons who are not legally authorized to act on behalf of the owners give permission for the appropriation.
The applicable charges and penalties for theft depend mainly on the value of the goods or services stolen. With some exceptions, if the stolen goods are worth less than $2,500, then the charge is a misdemeanor, and if the stolen goods are worth more than $2,500, then the charge is a felony.
The classification of theft offenses under Texas law also depends on the type of item stolen. For instance, if individuals take a firearm, the charge is a felony, regardless of the value of the gun. Likewise, if the subject of the theft is a driver’s license, then the offense is a Class B misdemeanor.
Penalties for misdemeanor theft convictions in Texas can range from up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine for a Class B misdemeanor to a maximum of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine for a Class A misdemeanor. Likewise, felony theft offenses cover a broad range of penalties, as well. A conviction for a felony theft offense may result in as little as 180 days of incarceration or life in prison, as well as fines of up to $10,000. Due to the potential severity of these penalties, individuals should consider seeking legal assistance from a theft attorney in Frisco.
The penalties for theft offenses also depend on other factors that enhance or increase the level of the charges. Some examples include theft by public servants in the course of their official positions or employment, theft from elderly persons, and thefts from non-profit organizations.
Some individuals and entities also are subject to special rules to avoid the buying and selling of stolen property. These individuals and businesses include pawn shops, vehicle salvage businesses, purchasers of used motor vehicles, and those who purchase pesticide and livestock.
If you have been accused of theft, a Frisco theft lawyer may be able to adequately explore your options and determine the best course of action in your defense.
Avoiding a theft conviction or persuading the state to reduce the charges against you may be possible, depending on your situation. An experienced attorney could work to remedy your situation to the fullest extent possible. Call today.