Facing any type of criminal charge can be stressful and overwhelming, especially if this is the first time navigating the Texas criminal justice system. It’s natural to feel anxious and concerned about how this incident will impact your future and your freedom. You may find yourself picturing the worst-case scenario—spending time behind bars and coping with severe consequences stemming from a momentary lapse in judgment. However, before you assume the worst, remind yourself that you have certain legal rights and protections, such as enlisting the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Your attorney will assess the details of your arrest and advise you on the most strategic path forward. In some situations, your attorney may help you negotiate a lighter sentence for a theft charge or avoid jail time altogether. If Texas law enforcement has arrested you or a loved one for a theft offense in Pearland or Brazoria County, contact a seasoned attorney right away to ensure your rights remain protected at every stage of the criminal justice process.
How Texas Defines Theft Charges
The scene of an arrest is often disorienting and confusing. It’s important to understand what criminal offense you are accused of committing, such as whether it could be considered a felony or misdemeanor charge. Like most states, Texas takes a tough stance on theft crimes. The nature of the theft charge corresponds to the object or service’s value, meaning that the theft of expensive goods or services leads to harsher penalties than those involving less costly items. Under Title 7, Section 31.03 of the Texas Penal Code, “A person commits [theft] if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property.” The statute continues to define unlawful appropriation as occurring if “(1) it is without the owner’s effective consent; (2) the property is stolen and the actor appropriates the property knowing that it was stolen by another; or (3) property in the custody of any law enforcement agency was explicitly represented by any law enforcement agent to the actor as being stolen and the actor appropriates the property believing it was stolen by another.” Essentially, anyone who takes possession of property without the owner’s consent may face criminal charges in Texas.
Understanding the Penalties for Theft Convictions in Texas
The penalties for theft convictions correspond to the value of the stolen property. Crimes involving the theft of property valued below $2,500 result in misdemeanor charges, while those involving property valued at $2,500 or more result in felony charges. State jail felony charges typically apply to theft offenses involving property valued between $2,500 and $30,000. Depending on the specifics of the case and the severity of the charges, you could face costly fines or even incarceration if convicted of theft in Texas. Additionally, if the circumstances of the offense involved a public servant committing the crime or the victim was an elderly individual or a nonprofit organization, the charges may increase to the next higher category of offense (i.e., a third-degree felony becomes a second-degree felony). The consequences of a theft conviction can significantly limit your freedom and future, so contact a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your situation.
Defensive Strategies to Explore When Facing Theft Charges
From the moment law enforcement places you under arrest for theft, you should recognize your legal rights and options. Even though the arresting officer may attempt to get you to “tell your side of the story,” it’s always in your best interest to exercise your Constitutional right to remain silent. Police officers, investigators, and prosecutors can use any statements you make to further their case against you, so say as little as possible until you’ve had the opportunity to speak with your attorney. Together, you and your lawyer will assess the details of the case to determine the most strategic path forward. For example, if you unknowingly left a store with an item in your hands, your attorney will work hard to demonstrate that this was simply a mistake and you had no intention of stealing the item. Or, if this is your first time facing theft charges, your lawyer can work with the court to negotiate a lighter sentence.
Protect Your Future Today
Facing any kind of criminal charge can be overwhelming and frightening. However, it’s essential to recognize that you do not have to go through this stressful period alone. Reach out to an experienced and trusted criminal defense attorney can give you the clarity and confidence you need to move forward. Now is not the time to leave your future up to chance—contact a criminal defense lawyer today.
If you are facing theft charges in Pearland or the greater Houston area, call the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC, at (832) 230-0075 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney.