Taking someone else’s property, even if it’s not extremely valuable, constitutes theft under Texas law. While theft is a crime that carries criminal penalties, many people assume that theft is considered a misdemeanor offense. Misdemeanor theft still carries significant penalties, but it’s important to understand that certain factors can elevate a theft offense to a felony charge. Let’s look at when theft is considered a felony in Houston and what steps you can take to defend yourself against such a charge.
Legal Definition of Theft Under Texas Law
Under Title 7, Section 31.03 of the Texas Penal Code, “A person commits an offense if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property.” Essentially, if a person took someone else’s property without their consent or knowingly accepted or appropriated property they know has been stolen, theft charges could arise. For cases involving property theft valued below $2,500, the defendant would likely face misdemeanor charges. However, if the property is valued at $2,500 or above, you could face felony charges.
Penalties for a Felony Theft Conviction in Texas
Depending on the circumstances of the case, the defendant could face a state jail felony, third-degree felony, second-degree felony, or even a first-degree felony charge. Theft is considered a state jail felony when the property is valued between $2,500 and $30,000 or was a firearm; if convicted, you could face a state jail sentence of between 180 days to two years, fines, and other restrictions. When the theft involves property worth between $30,000 and $150,000 or is a controlled substance taken from an authorized manufacturer or distributor, you could face third-degree felony charges that carry a two- to ten-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. Second-degree felony charges pertain to property valued between $150,000 and $300,000 and carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a $10,000 fine. If the property’s value exceeds $300,000, you could face first-degree felony theft, which carries a prison sentence between 5 and 99 years and up to $10,000 in fines.
How a Skilled Pearland Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
Facing criminal charges of any kind can be intimidating, especially if you have no previous experience with the criminal justice process. As soon as you’ve been arrested for an incident involving theft, contact an experienced Houston area criminal defense lawyer to discuss your situation. Your attorney will answer your questions and help you understand how to prepare for the days, weeks, and months ahead. Together, you’ll develop a solid legal strategy aimed at keeping your future as bright as possible.
If you’re facing misdemeanor or felony charges in the Pearland or Houston area, call Keith G. Allen, PLLC, today at (832) 230-0075 to schedule a free consultation with a trusted criminal defense attorney.