If you take something that does not belong to you and you do so without the owner’s consent or justification and have no intention of returning it, then you could be charged with the crime of theft. Theft can apply to property or services, too.
Whether you take a candy bar from a drug store or steal a car and go for a joy ride, being charged with theft in Texas can complicate your life in many ways. It is perhaps the most common of all committed crimes. Rather than take chances that the courts will go easy on you, your best course of action is to proactively mount a theft charges defense so that you can minimize any long-term impacts on your life.
How theft charges are classified in Texas
The state has classified various levels of theft charges based on the value of the property that was stolen:
- If the property or services that are stolen are valued at less than $50, you can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
- If the value is between $50 and $500, you can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.
- If the value is between $500 and $1,500, you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Any theft with a value of about $500 is considered grand theft and added penalties will apply.
- If the value is between $1,500 and $20,000, it is considered a state jail felony and can result in jail time of up to two years, plus fines.
- If the value is between $20,000 and $100,000, it is considered a third-degree felony and can result in jail time of up to 10 years, plus fines.
- If the value is between $100,000 and $200,000, it is considered a second-degree felony and can result in jail time of up to 20 years, plus fines.
- If the value is more than $200,000, it is considered a first-degree felony and can result in jail time of up to 99 years, plus fines.
Possible theft charge defenses
The most common defense against a theft charge is a lack of intent. A prosecutor must show that you had real intent to deprive someone of their property, instead of borrowing an item and forgetting to return it.
In other instances, a defendant may be able to claim that they were forced to steal something while under duress or threats from another. This is sometimes known as a blackmail defense.
At other times, a person may claim that they actually own the property in question, or that they had reason to believe they were the owner.
The Law Office of Maverick Ray serves clients in Houston, Pasadena and other nearby Texas communities.