Being accused of a crime is no light matter. Even those falsely accused of a crime may think that they can simply explain themselves out of the situation, but the legal process follows specific procedures for prosecuting or dropping criminal charges. If you have been charged with a theft crime in Texas, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and anxious about what this means for your immediate and long-term future. Now is not the time to gamble with your freedom—enlist the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to ensure your rights remain protected and upheld at every turn. Below is a brief overview of Texas theft charges and what steps you and your attorney can take to maximize your chances of having these charges dropped or dismissed.
How Texas Laws Define Theft
Like most states, Texas imposes significant penalties for theft offenses. Title 7, Section 31.03 of the Texas Penal Code specifies that theft is the “unlawful appropriation of property with intent to deprive the owner of property.” Unlawful appropriation occurs when the owner has not consented to the transfer of ownership or the defendant takes possession of the property knowing that another stole it. Shoplifting is one of the most common forms of theft, as the perpetrator intends to deprive the proprietor of their lawful property.
Criminal Penalties for Theft Convictions in Texas
In Texas, the penalties for theft convictions depend on the monetary value of the stolen property. For example, the theft of property valued below $100 is considered a Class C misdemeanor offense. If convicted, you would not face jail time, but you’d be compelled to pay up to a $500 fine. As the value of the unlawfully appropriated property increases, so does the severity of the penalties. A state jail felony, punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and up to two years in a state jail, applies to those found guilty of stealing property valued between $2,500 and $30,000. The most severe theft-related offense, involving property valued at $300,000 or more, is considered a first-degree felony, carrying a sentence of up to life in prison.
Defending Yourself Against Accusations of Theft
Your legal defense strategy begins at the scene of the incident. If a shopkeeper, security guard, or other party accuses you of theft and calls law enforcement, your top priority is to remain calm. Resist the urge to explain yourself or protest your innocence, as any words or statements you make could be twisted and used to build a criminal case against you later on. Even if you know that you were the victim of mistaken identity or that this incident is just a big misunderstanding, trust that you will have the opportunity to discuss the situation with your attorney. Exercise your Constitutional right to remain silent if an officer places you under arrest, and call your attorney as soon as possible to begin building a solid legal defense strategy.
Common Defense Strategies For Those Facing Theft Charges
After you contact your criminal defense attorney, you can begin to assess the specifics of your case and determine the most strategic path forward. People facing theft charges in Texas have several options to defend themselves against these accusations, and your attorney will identify the strategy that best suits your situation. Below are just a few of the defense strategies you may use to fight back against theft charges.
The Incident Was an Honest Mistake
Criminal cases rely on the intent of the alleged perpetrator. Theft occurs when someone knowingly and intentionally attempts to appropriate property that lawfully belongs to someone else. If you can provide evidence showing that you honestly believed the property rightfully belonged to you at the time of the incident or show that you accidentally walked out of the store forgetting that you had an item, prosecutors may decide to drop or dismiss the charges.
Shoplifting incidents often rely on security camera footage and witness statements to identify the perpetrator. However, grainy footage and unreliable eyewitnesses may lead to false accusations of theft against you. Your attorney will work to show that the available evidence does not point to you and that another individual who shares similar features is the actual perpetrator—not you.
You Need Smart and Effective Criminal Defense Services
Facing criminal charges can be overwhelming and stressful. However, before you picture the worst-case scenario, reach out to an experienced Pearland criminal defense lawyer who can evaluate the situation and determine the most strategic path forward. Your attorney will answer your questions, address your concerns, and defend your rights and freedom at every turn. Now is not the time to leave your future in the hands of chance—contact a skilled criminal defense attorney right away to get started.
If you are facing theft charges in Pearland, Brazoria County, or the Houston area, call the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC, today at (832) 230-0075 to arrange a free consultation with a dedicated criminal defense lawyer.