Many people who are charged with theft in Texas fail to take the offense seriously. Although theft is a property crime rather than a violent crime, you can still be imprisoned for the offense.
There is no minimum threshold of value of the stolen item for the theft laws to apply. You can be hit with a theft misdemeanor charge if you steal an item worth $2.
The offense of theft in Texas is referred to as larceny, petit theft, petty theft, grand theft, larceny or stealing, depending on the circumstances.
To be convicted of a theft offense, the prosecution must prove the defendant has to have the intent to permanently deprive the owner of his or her property.
The penalties for theft are set out under Title 7, Chapter 31 of the Texas Penal Code.
While theft of good or services with a value of $50 or less is a Class C misdemeanor carrying a potential fine of up to $500, theft of $200,000 or more is a first-degree felony that can result in up to 99 years in prison.
Although theft and larceny offenses can carry serious consequences, criminal defense attorneys have a range of defenses at their disposal.
One important defense to theft is when the defendant did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of the value or the services. Evidence showing you believed the owner allowed you to borrow the property in question, whether reasonable or not, will support this defense.
However, theft does not always entail the direct taking of another’s property. If you were aware that property was already stolen by someone else when you received it, you can be convicted of a theft offense. For instance, pawnshop owners who knowingly accept stolen goods can be convicted of theft.
The failure to perform an affirmative act can also constitute theft. Selling a car without a properly executed title amounts to theft. It’s theft to take money for yard work and to skip out of the job.
Duress is a defense to a theft charge in Texas. The accused has a valid defense if he or she stole items or services due to a threat of harm to them or their family. We sometimes see cases in which teens are forced to shoplift or steal property by gangs who threaten them with harm.
In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can argue the defendant was a victim of entrapment. This defense can be raised if the defendant would not have committed the crime without the intervention of law enforcement in some kind of sting operation.
It’s a legitimate defense if you receive stolen goods but are genuinely unaware they did not belong to the person who gave them to you. The law says the recipient must know the property is stolen and the “actor appropriates the property knowing it was stolen by another.”
Prosecutors often face an uphill task in proving the intent needed to make a theft or larceny charge stick. Our Dallas theft defense lawyers make it difficult for them. We will check all relevant records like video footage from stores that may show a store detective was heavy-handed and overreacted.
The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the theft took place. If you or a family member has been charged with theft you should take it seriously and contact our Dallas criminal defense team as soon as possible.