Temple Theft Attorney
Most people understand that stealing is illegal. In Texas, stealing is technically called theft, and a theft conviction carries high penalties. Instead of immediately pleading guilty, however, all people accused of theft should better understand the law and the possible defenses available. Beating the rap is sometimes possible, but you will need a seasoned advocate by your side throughout the process. Contact the Law Office of Katie L. Gomez, PLLC, for assistance.
Texas Theft Laws
The current law is found at Section 31.03 of the Texas Penal Code. Put simply, theft consists of unlawfully taking property with the intent to deprive the owner of it. Not all taking of property is unlawful, which is where consent comes in. The taking is unlawful when:
- The owner did not effectively consent to the defendant taking it, or
- The property was stolen and the defendant knew it was stolen when he appropriated it, or
- Law enforcement explicitly states the property was stolen and the defendant appropriates it
There are some common examples. Taking items from a neighbor’s garage without consent would constitute theft, as would stealing items from work. Even taking an item you know was stolen would qualify as a crime.
A real problem in theft cases involves the intent to deprive. This is an element of the law which turns on the defendant’s mental state, which is hard to know. If a person intended to use an item only briefly, then they might not have committed theft.
Penalties for a Theft Conviction
The statutory scheme is fairly complicated. At base, the punishment usually depends on the value of the goods stolen as well as any prior convictions for theft. To summarize as briefly as possible:
- Class C misdemeanor: goods worth less than $100
- Class B misdemeanor: goods valued between $100 and $750
- Class B misdemeanor: goods worth less than $100 but with a prior theft conviction
- Class A misdemeanor: goods valued between $750 and $2,500
- State jail felony: goods valued between $2,500 and $30,000 or the theft of a firearm
- Third-degree felony: goods valued between $30,000 and $150,000
- Second-degree felony: goods valued between $150,000 and $300,000
- First-degree felony: goods valued $300,000 or more
Penalties can range between a $500 fine and no jail for a Class C misdemeanor all the way up to between 5 and 99 years in jail for a first-degree felony. Sometimes the value of goods are in dispute, as when a person steals a used car.
How We Defend Against Theft Charges
Our firm has used different approaches in these types of cases. For example, it’s sometimes the case that our client received consent from the property’s owner, even if the permission is implied. If so, then no theft has taken place and no one should be punished.
In other situations, a defendant took the goods by mistake. In other words, they had no intent to permanently deprive the owner of the goods, so there is no theft. This might happen if the owner gives you permission to borrow something—like a ladder—but you take the wrong one in the garage.
Sometimes, the best defense is to get the prosecutor to reduce the charges. Reduced charges might be eligible for expunction later on, and we can sometimes help clients avoid any time in jail by pleading to a lesser offense.
Call Our Temple Theft Lawyer Today
Theft cases often involve complicated fact patterns. The sooner an attorney can get started reviewing your case, the better. Reach out to Katie L. Gomez today for a free consultation.