In Texas, a seemingly minor theft accusation can still land you in hot water. Even if you think the evidence against you is weak and the alleged theft involves something of little value, your life could be seriously impacted by a conviction. It’s important to stay informed about how the Texas legal system defines and prosecutes theft and larceny charges.
In Texas, some theft charges are classed as misdemeanors. Class C is the least serious, moving progressively to Class A. The determination usually depends on the value of what was allegedly taken. Class C misdemeanor charges stem from items valued $50 or less; Class B for items valued at between $51 and $500; and Class A for items that $501 to $1500.
Even if your potential penalty isn’t severe, a seemingly minor Class C charge might be considered “moral turpitude.” In other words, you could be judged to be of questionable character if you are convicted of stealing even a small, inexpensive item. That conviction could cost you your job or a chance at higher education.
As with misdemeanors, felony theft charges depend on the value of what was stolen. Felonies are rated from State Felony (least serious) to Third Degree, Second Degree and First degree (most serious). First degree is generally reserved for property valued at $200,000 or more, under Texas law.
Of course, these basic theft charges are often only part of the story, depending on whether those charged are alleged to have been in possession of an unlicensed weapon, or if violence was alleged to have occurred in connection with the theft.
Even if you’re “lucky” enough to have a charge bumped down to a state or third degree felony, the consequences of being convicted can be devastating. In Texas, a first degree felony conviction can result in a $10,000 fine and 99 years of prison — as well as immeasurable damage to your professional and personal reputation.
A Strong Defense
Those who are charged with theft misdemeanors or felonies in Texas have several avenues of defense as options. These include proving that the person charged wasn’t the thief; that there was an honest misunderstanding about ownership; or even that an extenuating circumstance like intoxication was involved.
Whatever these negating or extenuating circumstances may be, it’s important to begin consulting with your lawyer as soon as possible if you have been charged with theft in Texas.