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Theft occurs not only through the physical carrying of an object away from another without consent but also can involve false pretense, swindling, embezzlement, receiving stolen property, acquisition by threat, and several other methods.
Section 31.02 of the Texas Penal Code consolidates all of these crimes under the umbrella term “theft,” and defines the offense as the unlawful appropriation of property with the intent to deprive. Appropriating property is unlawful if it is without the effective consent of the owner, or with the belief or knowledge that the property was stolen from another.
If you are charged with any type of theft, you may want to contact a Houston theft attorney today. The punishment for theft can be severe and affect your future freedom and rights. A criminal defense lawyer could help you defend against the charges to mitigate the effect of the charges or a conviction on your life.
Punishments for theft are typically dependent on the value of the property stolen. A theft conviction can range from a Class C misdemeanor to a first-degree felony with punishments including fines and/or prison sentences.
Theft of less than $100 in property value is a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by fine of up to $500. Theft of property valued between $100 and $750 is a Class B misdemeanor and can carry a punishment of up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. If the value of the stolen property is between $750 and $2,500, the crime is a Class A felony. A Class A felony is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $4000.
Any conviction for the theft of property valued at over $2,500 is a felony in Texas. The felonies can range from a state jail felony to first-degree felony, each with increasingly severe maximum penalties.
A conviction for the theft of property worth between $2,500 and $30,000 is a state jail felony. State jail felonies carry a mandatory 180-day jail sentence and a maximum sentence of two years. The maximum fine for such a felony is $10,000.
If the stolen property is worth between $30,000 and $150,000, the offense is a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony can result in a minimum of two years and up to ten years of imprisonment. The maximum fine for a felony in the third degree is $10,000.
Theft of property valued between $150,000 and $300,000 is a second-degree felony and is punishable by a $10,000 fine and between two to 20 years of imprisonment. It is a felony in the first degree to steal property valued at an amount greater than $300,000. A first-degree felony carries a minimum five-year prison sentence and up to ninety-nine years of incarceration.
There are several factors which can cause a theft conviction to be a greater offense than its monetary value according to the traditional sentencing scheme. For example, a theft may be raised to the next classification of severity if, during the theft, the defendant deactivated a device designed to prevent retail theft or sounded a fire alarm in furtherance of the theft.
The theft of certain raw metals such as aluminum, bronze, copper, and brass can also result in an elevated sentence of a state jail felony. The Houston Penal Code contains many such exceptions. A Houston theft lawyer could explain these nuances of the law and could argue to the court that such a deviation from the standard penalty structure should not apply in an individual’s case.
Talk to a Houston Theft Attorney Today
A theft charge can have serious consequences such as fines, imprisonment, and a lifelong criminal record. A Houston theft attorney could help minimize these consequences by using legal strategies to create a strong defense and negotiate a lesser sentence or plea bargain. If you were charged with theft of any kind, contact an attorney to learn more about your rights and options under the law.