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Citations / Arrest / Release for Theft

When someone gets accused of theft, they are arrested or issued a ticket, sometimes both. Texas Penal Code 31.03 says that a person commits theft when they unlawfully take the property of another with the intent to deprive the owner of that property. That person must also have had no intent of giving the property back to its rightful owner.

The most common ways people commit the offense of theft in Texas are by shoplifting, writing bad checks, general theft, and buying and accepting stolen property.

Shoplifting occurs when one takes items out of a store with the intention to deprive the store of that item without paying for it. When someone writes a bad check, typically they know that the money is not really available or it is not their money to write the check for. General theft occurs when someone is taking an item that doesn’t belong to them without permission. When someone knows that a person selling a stolen good or property, and they still proceed with the sale, they have committed theft.


Penalties:

The punishment for an individual varies depending on the value of the property or services stolen as well as their previous criminal history.  Penalties can also be enhanced due to the circumstances of your case, such as the act of theft with a weapon on your person.


Class C misdemeanor:

This charge is the most minor offense of theft but will still show up on background checks and can cause problems in the future.

  • (a) The value of the property stolen is less than $100 is a class C misdemeanor.

A Misdemeanor C is punishable by a fine no more than $500. Many take this charge lightly thinking it won’t affect jobs or many aspects of their daily life but it will.


Class B misdemeanor:

  • (a) The value of the property is more than $100, but less than $750.
  • (b) The property stolen is less than $100, but the defendant has previously been convicted of any grand theft.
  • (c) The property stolen was a driver’s license or personal identification certificate issued by the state or another state.

Fines cannot be more than $2,000 and confinement in county jail for no more than 180 days.


Class A misdemeanor:

  • The value of the property stolen is more than $750, but less than $2,500.

Fines cannot exceed $4,000 and no confinement in county jail for more than a year.


 State Jail Felony:

  • (a) The value of the property stolen is $2,500 or more but less than $30,000, or the property’s value is less than 10 head of sheep, swine, or goats or any part thereof under the value of $30,000.
  • (b) Regardless of the value of the property, the property is stolen from the person of another or a grave including military markers.
  • (c) The property stolen is a firearm.
  • (d) The value of the property stolen is less than $2,500 and the defendant has been previously convicted two or more times of any grade of theft.
  • (e) The property of the property stolen is an official ballot or carrier envelope for an election.
  • (f) The value of the property stolen is less than $20,000 and is aluminum, bronze, copper, or brass.

Punishment for a state jail felony is a fine not to exceed $10,000 and confinement in a state jail institution for no less than 180 days and no more than 2 years.


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3rd Degree Felony:

  • The value of the property stolen is $30,000 or more but less than $150,000.

Punishment includes 2 to 10 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000.


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2nd Degree Felony:

  • (a) The value of the property is $150,000 or more but less than $300,000.
  • (b) The value of the property is less than $300,000 and the property stolen is an automated teller machine or the contents of an automated teller machine.

Punishment includes 2 to 20 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000.


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1st Degree Felony:

  • The value of the property stolen is $300,000 or more.
  • (a) A person was a public servant at the time of the offense and the property came into the person’s custody, possession, or control because of their status as a public servant.
  • (b) A person was in a contractual relationship with the government at the time of the offense.
  • (c) The owner of the stolen property was an elder or a nonprofit organization.
  • (d) A person was a Medicare provider, in a contractual relationship with the federal government at the time of the offense.
  • (e) The actor used deactivation equipment to cause alarms to not go off.

Punishment for this crime includes 5 to 99 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000.


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Theft Citations

If you have been given a citation only and were not arrested in Travis County, it is still important to speak with a lawyer. Many times officers or loss prevention employees say that all you have to do is “pay the fine” and no further action will be taken.

The truth is that just paying the fine is actually a plea of no contest or guilty. Paying the fine is a nonverbal agreement accepting your responsibility in the crime. This will result in a PERMANENT criminal conviction of theft on your record. No matter, the amount of the property taken.

If you plead not guilty and consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney, they may be able to get the case dismissed or enter you into a deferred disposition which means that after successful completion of the terms set forth, you will be eligible for this case to be expunged from your record.

Being charged with theft can label you as untrustworthy, a bad person, and someone who doesn’t respect the property of others. A charge of theft should be taken seriously no matter if it is a citation, a misdemeanor or a felony. Contact The Law Office of Kevin Bennett at (512) 476-4626 today for a free evaluation of your case.


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Resources: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/SOTWDocs/PE/htm/PE.31.htm

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