A person commits theft if he/she unlawfully appropriates property with the intent to deprive the owner of that property. When a person commits theft, he/she may be charged with misdemeanor or felony theft. The type of charge will depend upon the value (dollar amount) of the property that was stolen and if a weapon was used during the commission of the crime.
Misdemeanor theft is when a person illegally takes another person’s property without the person’s consent and the value of the property is less than $2,500.00. The most commonly committed misdemeanor theft crime is shoplifting. Felony theft is when a person illegally takes another person’s property without the person’s consent and the value of the property is more than $2,500.00.
In 2015 Legislative Session, pecuniary loss thresholds applied to property crimes were adjusted as follows:
- Class C Misdemeanor: less than $100
- Class B Misdemeanor: $100 to $750
- Class A Misdemeanor: $750 to $2,500
- State Jail Felony: $2,500 to $30,000
- 3rd Degree Felony: $30,000 to $150,000
- 2nd Degree Felony: $150,000 to $300,000
- 1st Degree Felony: Over $300,000
Types of Theft CrimesThe following is a list of commonly committed theft crimes in Texas:
- theft by check
- theft of firearm
- identity theft
- credit card theft
- motor vehicle theft
Any person who is convicted of a theft crime may be sentenced with jail or prison time, fines, probation, community service, and restitution. Additionally, the person’s theft crime conviction will show up on his/her criminal record, which is accessible to the public. When a person has a theft crime conviction on his/her criminal record, it can be very difficult for him/her to obtain employment, housing, and education opportunities.
Effects of a Theft ConvictionA conviction for theft can have a significant impact on your life. It will be on your criminal record as a theft arrest and conviction and may cause you to loose professional, educational, and even housing opportunities. If you currently have a professional license that license may also be in jeopardy if the licensing agency becomes aware of the theft. Furthermore, a theft conviction is considered a crime of moral turpitude. That means that if you are convicted of theft you cannot sit as a juror, a fundamental right of American citizens.
A person commits burglary if without the effective consent of the owner the person enters a habitation or building with intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault.
People who commit burglary may or may not use a weapon during the commission of the crime. In most states, breaking into another person’s residence is considered a more serious offense than breaking into a commercial property due to the immense distress of the victims and the personal nature of the crime. Therefore, a person who burglarizes a residence may be subject to harsher legal penalties if convicted than a person who burglarizes a gas station.
If you have been charged with burglary, it is important that you speak with a burglary crimes attorney immediately. If you are convicted, you face severe legal consequences that will adversely affect your future quality of life. By working with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, you stand a better chance of fighting your criminal charges, or having your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Burglary PenaltiesBurglary is a felony offense. Any person who is convicted of burglary may be sentenced with jail or prison time, fines, probation, community service, and restitution. Additionally, the person’s burglary conviction will show up on his/her criminal record, which is accessible to the public. When a person has a burglary conviction on his/her criminal record, it can be very difficult for him/her to obtain employment, housing, and education opportunities.
A person commits an offense if the person starts a fire (regardless of whether the fire continues after ignition), or causes an explosion with intent to destroy or damage any vegetation, fence, or structure on open-space land or any building, habitation, or vehicle (knowing that: it is within the limits of an incorporated city or town; knowing that it is insured against damage or destruction; knowing that it is subject to a mortgage or other security interest; knowing that it is located on property belonging to another; knowing that it has located within it property belonging to another; or when the person is reckless about whether the burning or explosion will endanger the life of some individual or the safety of the property of another.Further, a person commits an offense if the person recklessly starts a fire or causes an explosion while manufacturing or attempting to manufacture a controlled substance and the fire or explosion damages any building, habitation, or vehicle.
A person commits an offense if the person intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion and in so doing: recklessly damages or destroys a building belonging to another; or recklessly causes another person to suffer bodily injury or death.
Exceptions or Defenses:
It is an exception to this section that the fire or explosion was a part of the controlled burning of open-space land.
It is a defense to prosecution under this section that prior to starting the fire or causing the explosion, the actor obtained a permit or other written authorization granted in accordance with a city ordinance, if any, regulating fires and explosions.
Range of Punishment:
An Arson offense can range between a State Jail Felony to a 1st Degree Felony.
If it is determined that bodily injury or death was suffered as a result of the offense or the property intended to be damaged or destroyed was a habitation or a place of assembly or worship, then the offense can much more severe.
Organized Retail Theft
Organized retail crime refers to professional shoplifting, cargo theft, retail crime rings and other organized crime occurring in retail environments. One person acting alone is not considered an example of organized retail crime, however if two or more people are acting together, then it could be considered Organized Retail Crime.
Reckless Damage or Destruction
Is when a person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner, s/he recklessly damages or destroys the property of the owner.
The Range of Punishment for this charge is typically a Misdemeanor C.
Is typically a type of vandalism whereby a person intentionally or knowingly makes markings, including inscriptions, slogans, drawings, or paintings, on the tangible property of the owner (without the owner’s consent) with paint, an indelible marker or by using an etching or engraving device.
The Range of Punishment is between a Class B Misdemeanor to a 3rd Degree Felony, depending on the amount of damage and the details of the event.
The determination can be made based on the following damage amounts:
- Class B misdemeanor: if the amount of pecuniary loss is less than $500;
- Class A misdemeanor: if the amount of pecuniary loss is $500 or more but less than $1,500;
- A state jail felony: if the amount of pecuniary loss is $1,500 or more but less than $20,000;
- A felony of the third degree: if the amount of pecuniary loss is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000;
- A felony of the second degree: if the amount of pecuniary loss is $100,000 or more but less than $200,000; or
- A felony of the first degree: if the amount of pecuniary loss is $200,000 or more.
- Aerosol paint” means an aerosolized paint product.
- “Etching or engraving device” means a device that makes a delineation or impression on tangible property, regardless of the manufacturer’s intended use for that device.
- “Indelible marker” means a device that makes a mark with a paint or ink product that is specifically formulated to be more difficult to erase, wash out, or remove than ordinary paint or ink products.
A person commits an offense if s/he commits robbery as defined in Section 29.02, and during the commission of that crime, s/he causes serious bodily injury to another, or uses/exhibits a deadly weapon; or causes bodily injury to another person, and/or the victim who was threatened or placed in fear of bodily injury or death was an individual 65 years of age or older, or was disabled either physically, mentally or developmentally.
Aggravated robbery may involve the use of a deadly weapon, such as a gun or knife. This offense has been traditionally known as “armed robbery,” but that term is no longer used in Texas law and is prosecuted as Aggravated Robbery.
Range of Punishment: If the crime is elevated to that of Aggravated Robbery, this offense will be a 1st Degree Felony. This carries a more serious penalty of 5 to 99 years in a state prison and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Burglary of Vehicle
A person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner, s/he breaks into or enters a vehicle or any part of a vehicle with intent to commit any felony or theft.Definitions:
For purposes of this section, “enter” means to intrude:
(1) any part of the body; or
(2) any physical object connected with the body.
Range of Punishment:
An offense under this section is generally a Class A misdemeanor.
Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle
Sec. 31.07. UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A VEHICLE. A person commits an offense if s/he intentionally or knowingly operates another person’s boat, airplane, or motor-propelled vehicle without the effective consent of the owner.Range of Punishment for this offense is a State Jail Felony with a penalty of 180 days to 2 years in State Jail and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Theft by Check
Theft by check, or what is commonly referred to as worthless check or hot check cases, are one of the most widespread cases filed against individuals. Most counties have entire departments dedicated to the prosecution of hot check cases yet few people realize the implications of a bounced check on their lives.
If you write a check without sufficient funds you can be arrested and charged with a criminal offense. Depending on the amount of the check you may even face jail or prison time in addition to heavy fines and court costs.
How Theft by Check Cases are FiledWhen a merchant is written a check that is not covered by sufficient funds, that merchant may contact the appropriate prosecuting authority, typically the District or County Attorneys Office. The worthless check department may attempt to contact you in an effort to collect the check amount plus any additional fines or fees.
If the check is not paid within the required time frame, the prosecutors office will file criminal charges against you and have a warrant issued for your arrest. Once arrested you will have to post a bond or remain incarcerated until completion of your case. You will also have numerous dates that you must attend.
Defenses to Theft by CheckThe State must prove that you wrote the check or gave someone permission to write the check. Often times you may get notice about a hot check that you knew nothing about. For instance if your checkbook was stolen or someone took the check without permission. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm has experience at fighting theft by check cases. By hiring an experienced attorney the charges could be dismissed if it is proven that you did not write the check to the merchant.
Even if you did write the check, Gilbert G. Garcia can work with the prosecutor to get help your case by ensuring that the checks are paid in full as well as any applicable fees.