Facing criminal charges of any kind can be stressful and frightening. Like many states, Texas takes theft crimes seriously and imposes strict penalties for theft offenses like shoplifting or theft of services. If Texas law enforcement has arrested you for a theft offense, it’s natural to want to know how this event will impact your future and freedom. Whether you are facing a misdemeanor or felony theft offense, it’s critical to contact a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
The Legal Definition of Theft in Texas
When someone takes the property of someone else, this action may constitute theft. Title 7, section 31.03 of the Texas Penal Code states, “A person commits [theft] if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property.” Anyone who takes possession of property belonging to someone else without obtaining the owner’s consent could face theft charges. Depending on the value of the goods or services in question, prosecutors may bring misdemeanor or felony charges against you.
Felony Charges For Costly Goods or Services
Misdemeanor charges typically apply for thefts involving items or services valued below $2,500. However, theft becomes a state jail felony when the property is valued between $2,500 and $30,000, is a firearm, is an official ballot, or is valued below $2,500, but the defendant has already been convicted of theft two or more times. If convicted of a state jail felony, you could face between 180 days and 2 years in state jail, fines, and other limitations on your freedom. As the value of the property or services increases, the severity of the felony offense escalates. The most serious offense, first-degree felony theft, occurs for property valued at $300,000 or more and carries a prison sentence between 5 to 99 years and a $10,000 fine.
Trusted Legal Representation When You Need it Most
Whether law enforcement has arrested you for a misdemeanor or felony theft offense, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Resist the urge to explain your way out of the situation, as law enforcement, investigators, and prosecutors may use your words to build a case against you. Instead, try to remain calm and cooperative as you wait until you have the opportunity to contact your criminal defense lawyer. Together, you and your attorney can explore all of your legal options and determine the most strategic path forward.
If you need help protecting your rights in Pearland, Brazoria County, or the surrounding Houston area, call the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC, today at (832) 230-0075 to schedule a free consultation with a trusted criminal defense lawyer.