Waco Theft Crime Defense Lawyers
What Constitutes a Theft Charge in Texas?
Theft charges must involve several key elements for the prosecuting attorney to secure a conviction, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:
- Unlawfully took or possessed property that did not belong to him/her;
- Without the owner’s consent; and
- With the intent of depriving its rightful owner of its possession or use.
So, if you were charged with a theft offense in Texas, you've got your work cut out for you. However, you don't have to face the charge alone. You can turn to Milam & Fanning, PLLC. Our Waco theft defense attorneys will do everything possible to keep your record clean. That could mean pleading "not guilty" and proceeding to trial. Or, it could mean securing an offer of deferred probation or some other resolution that enables us to minimize the damage to your record.
Does Intent Matter in a Theft Case?
Keep in mind that a person must intend to commit theft in order to be guilty of it. This may seem like a silly thing to say, but sometimes people commit theft when they are at a store with other people without telling those other people what they are up to. In these cases, loss prevention staff and law enforcement officers tend to declare the entire group guilty of shoplifting.
Now, it is possible that the entire group could be guilty of theft when stolen merchandise is only found on one person. Imagine a situation where Person 1 is putting merchandise in his bag, Person 2 is standing lookout, Person 3 is intentionally distracting a store employee, and Person 4 is waiting in the parking lot, revving the engine of the getaway car.
Here, through what we commonly refer to as the law of parties, all four people would be guilty. However, if Persons 2, 3, and 4 are not in any way helping or encouraging Person 1 to commit theft, then they don't become guilty simply because they are present.
What is the Punishment for Theft in Texas?
The punishment for theft in Texas depends on the value of what was stolen & the manner in which is was stolen, including:
- Class C Misdemeanor - Property/services valued at less than $100; no jail time & up to $500 in fines
- Class B Misdemeanor - Property/services valued at less than $750 & more than $100 ; up to 180 day imprisonment &/or up to $2k in fines
- Class A Misdemeanor - Property/services valued at less than $2.5k & more than $750; up to 1 year imprisonment &/or up to $4k in fines
- State Felony Theft - Property/services valued at less than $30k & more than $2.5k; up to 2 years imprisonment &/or up to $10k in fines
- Third Degree Felony - Property/services valued at less than $150k & more than $30k; up to 10 years imprisonment &/or up to $10k in fines
- Second Degree Felony - Property/services valued at less than $300k & more than $150k; up to 20 years imprisonment &/or up to $10k in fines
- First Degree Felony - Property/services valued at more than $300k; up to life imprisonment &/or up to $10k in fines
Theft penalties will also be enhanced if the theft committed was against a public servant, a government affiliate, a nonprofit organization, a person over 64 years old, a Medicare provider, if the theft tampered with the fire alarm, or if the theft was executed using a deadly weapon.
When it comes to applying for jobs, a theft conviction is one of the worst possible convictions to have on your record. At the end of the day, it is going to be pretty tough for a potential employer to believe they can trust a person around their cash if that person has previously been caught taking something of value that didn't belong to them.
Experienced Legal Counsel from Milam & Fanning, PLLC
There is an enhancement in the law regarding theft. If a person has two theft convictions on his or her record, a third theft charge can be indicted as a state jail felony even if it would be otherwise charged as a Class C misdemeanor. In other words, you could spend two years in prison for stealing a pack of gum.
In County Court at Law #1, Judge Freeman will require defendants to sit in his jury box for an entire morning during Thursday or Friday pleas and hold a sign up in front of them which reads, "I'm a Thief." Judge Freeman claims that people have a choice, but the alternative available to the defendant is that they spend five days in jail Probationers have reported feeling embarrassed, humiliated, and demeaned by this practice. However, we have yet to see anyone choose the five days of jail.