Theft is a broad category of criminal law that encompasses many specific crimes, and as such can be a surprisingly (and unsurprisingly, of course) difficult legal realm to navigate on your own. In the very broadest sense—because often, theft can fit into several different definitions, which makes navigating it all the more difficult—theft can be defined as the willful appropriation of property without the consent of its owner. There are, however, more exact categories and definitions dependent on the type and degree of theft. The penalties for theft-related crimes naturally follow these unique categorizations and can range from moderate fines and suspended terms of probation to expensive financial penalties and lengthy jail sentences. In other words, the punishments for theft-related crimes can be quite substantial and should not be taken lightly.

This is especially true in Texas, where each of the several types of common theft crimes carries a hefty penalty. The types of common theft crimes in Texas include:

  • Burglary
  • Robbery and armed robbery
  • Auto theft or carjacking
  • Shoplifting and petty theft
  • Embezzlement, wire fraud, identity theft, and other “white-collar” theft crimes
  • Dealing in stolen merchandise
  • Buying or accepting stolen property
  • Bad checks
  • Shoplifting

The penalties for these crimes can, of course, vary widely, which often makes understanding theft as a charge and navigating through it even more complicated. The reality is, none of the variations should be written off or dismissed. For example, petty theft and shoplifting are generally punishable by fines and a period of unsupervised probation, but crimes of theft that can be charged as felonies can carry extremely stiff fines and even extended jail time. This diversity of penalty makes the employment of a trained and experienced legal professional vital for those facing such charges. In other words, navigating the choppy waters of theft within the legal system can be exceptionally tricky. Working with a professional, legal service can be extremely beneficial, and in many cases, incredibly necessary.


The degree of a felony is based on the value of the amount stolen. The penalties associated with these varying classifications of theft crime are as follows:

  • From $20,000 but less than $100,000.00 – Third degree felony, with a fine of no more than $10,000 and/or two-to-10 years in state prison
  • From $100,000 but less than $200,000.00 – Second degree felony, with a fine of no more than $10,000 and/or two-to-20 years in state prison
  • $200,000.00 or more – First Degree felony, with a fine of no more than $10,000 and/or two-to-99 years in state prison

It is important to realize that these punishments are merely baselines and can be increased under certain circumstances. It is not unusual for the end result of a charge to be harsher than the starting points that are listed here. As such, retaining an attorney who has the experience and knowledge to interpret the charges specific to your unique case is vital, as they can help you not only understand the situation more fully, but also develop a plan to best address it.

If you find yourself facing criminal charges for theft, distributing stolen goods, larceny, or any other theft-related crime, you should call the law offices of Nelson Defender at 281-459-0701 at your earliest convenience. Our Woodlands criminal defense team will thoroughly review the facts of your case and provide you with aggressive and compassionate representation. Remember, you should never go at a situation such as this alone. You need trained professionals on your side to dissect the details of the charges, work closely with you to create and implement the best possible plan, and ultimately secure the most favorable outcome for both you and your family.



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