Under Texas law, the term “theft” applies to several different criminal offenses, including shoplifting, purchasing stolen property, writing bad checks, and more. The court may charge you with misdemeanor or felony theft charges depending on the property’s value and other relevant factors. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of theft charges in the Houston area and what steps you should take if law enforcement arrests you for a theft offense.
The Legal Definition of Theft in Texas
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.” Unlawful appropriation of property occurs when the owner has not given consent or an individual appropriates property with the knowledge that another person stole the property. Law enforcement can arrest you for theft if you used deception to relieve someone of their property or if you physically stole property belonging to someone else. Prosecutors must show that you acted with criminal intent and that you possessed or had the property in question in your possession.
Common Types of Theft Under Texas Law
Several types of theft meet the legal definition under Texas law. The most common type of theft crime is shoplifting, where the perpetrator takes physical items from a store with the deliberate intention of not paying for these goods. Additionally, using a check from a closed account to pay for an item may lead to theft charges. You have ten days to reimburse the merchant for a bounced check—theft charges may result if you fail to do so within this timeframe. Instances of general theft, like taking someone’s purse or wallet when their back is turned or stealing from the cash register at your place of employment can also lead to theft charges.
How a Pearland Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
The penalties for theft range from a fine of $500 for a Class C misdemeanor offense to up to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for a first-degree felony. In some cases, you could face additional sentencing enhancements if you have a previous theft conviction or the act involved the theft of a firearm. As soon as law enforcement arrests you for a theft offense, contact a skilled criminal defense attorney to discuss your situation and ensure your rights and freedom remain protected. Together, you can build a solid legal strategy to secure the best possible outcome given the specifics of your case.
Schedule a free consultation with a trusted Pearland criminal defense attorney today by calling the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC, at (832) 230-0075.