How Can I Defend Against Misdemeanor Theft Charges?
You can face misdemeanor charges for theft in Texas in many different circumstances, including situations involving shoplifting, pickpocketing or theft from a person, passing a worthless check, embezzlement by taking goods from your office, and other related alleged acts. Under the Texas Penal Code, theft is defined broadly to include a situation in which a person “unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of the property.” Generally speaking, the difference between most misdemeanor and felony theft charges concerns the value of the property that has allegedly been appropriated. Most property valued at less than $2,500 will be charged as a misdemeanor, but you should still expect to face Class A misdemeanor charges. If you are convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, you can face up to one year in jail in addition to a monetary fine.
Given the seriousness of even misdemeanor theft charges, you need to begin working with a Temple theft lawyer as soon as you can to develop the strongest possible defense strategy in order to avoid a conviction. What are some of the potential defense strategies for misdemeanor theft charges? Your best defense will be tailored to the facts of your case, but the following are some commonly used defense strategies in theft cases.
You Own the Property
One of the most common misdemeanor theft defense strategies is proving that you own the property you have been accused of appropriating. For example, if you are shopping at a mall and purchased an item in another store before browsing in a subsequent retail location that sells the same product, you can obtain a credit card receipt or other proof that you purchased the item and that you lawfully own the property.
Mistake (You Thought the Property Was Yours)
In some cases, theft charges arise—especially misdemeanor theft charges—when a person takes property that they believe to be theirs. For example, if a person is working in an office and notices an external hard drive in the office supply room, that person might recognize the external hard drive as theirs and take it home. While it might turn out that the external hard drive only resembled the person’s own property, the person took the property by mistake, genuinely believing that they had ownership rights.
Owner Gave Permission or You Were Lawfully Allowed to Use the Property
Sometimes people are accused of theft offenses when they have an item in their possession, but it may be true that the owner of the property actually gave permission for that person to possess it. For example, a person might be charged with theft because they are driving another person’s vehicle, but the owner of the vehicle may have given permission.
Depending upon the circumstances, a theft defense might include entrapment. Entrapment happens when a police officer induces a person to commit a theft offense (or another kind of criminal offense). For entrapment to be a successful defense, you must be able to prove that the law enforcement official actually induced you into committing the crime rather than that the officer merely gave you an opportunity to commit the crime and encouraged you to do it.
Contact a Temple Theft Defense Lawyer
Do you need assistance defending against misdemeanor theft charges? One of our Temple criminal defense lawyers can assist you. Contact The Law Office of Katie L. Gomez, PLLC today.