Houston, Conroe, and The Woodlands Theft Crime Attorneys
Common Theft Offenses in Texas
If you or a loved one has been accused of a theft crime, it’s time to call a lawyer. These crimes can result in serious consequences for the accused, including incarceration, hefty fines, and a record. What you need is an exceptional Houston, Conroe, and The Woodlands theft crime attorney to beat the charges, protect your reputation, and ensure that you obtain the result you deserve.
Erik Nelson is a tough and knowledgeable firm with an impressive track record of successful cases. With nearly 100 years of combined experience, we have handled criminal cases of every variety and would be glad to represent you on your matter. With a long list of achievements and accolades, our Houston, Conroe, and The Woodlands theft crime lawyers have proven we have what it takes. We go the extra mile. We advocate for you when it matters most.
If you are facing theft charges, it is important that you contact our Houston, Conroe, and The Woodlands theft crime attorneys. We can help you beat your charges up a consultation!
Theft Crimes & Larceny Laws in Texas
In Texas Penal Code Section 31.03(a), theft occurs when “a person commits an offense if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property.” Many crimes can fall under this category but vary greatly. For example, shoplifting is very different from embezzlement or credit card fraud. Let’s discuss some of Texas’s most common theft offenses, potential penalties, and defenses against these charges.
The four most common types of theft crimes in the state of Texas are:
- Writing bad checks
- Accepting / purchasing property that was stolen
- General theft
Shoplifting Charges in TX
If you take items from a store without paying, or show intent to steal, you could be charged with shoplifting. It is estimated that 1 out of every 11 people shoplifts.
Shoplifting is the most common theft crime charged in Texas. This offense can be described as taking merchandise out of a store without paying the full price set by the store. This means that an individual could be accused of shoplifting for disabling an anti-theft device and taking an item out of a store without paying, as well as for switching price tags and paying less than the set amount.
If you or a loved one has been accused of shoplifting, it’s important to get legal help with our Houston, Conroe, and The Woodlands theft crime lawyers. The accused could face severe penalties, plus civil penalties. The Texas Theft Liability Act allows shoplifting and other theft victims to file lawsuits for damages sustained in the crime. You need a good lawyer who knows how to protect you.
The penalties and sentences for theft/larceny offenses in Texas, including shoplifting, are determined based on the value of the item or items stolen, as well as any extenuating factors. The lowest theft charge is charged as a Class C misdemeanor, and usually, involves property stolen with a value of $100.00 or less. The most extreme theft cases involve stolen property valued at $300,000.00 or more, which may be charged as a first-degree felony. We handle cases for all types of individuals, including juveniles.
Writing Bad Checks in Texas
This is sometimes known as a ‘hot check.’ This occurs when someone writes a check, knowing that there is no money available in the account to be withdrawn.
For example, writing a $6,000 check to pay for a used car, knowing that the linked bank account has no money in it. The thief leaves with the car, then the seller takes the check to the bank and cannot get their payment.
If you have accidentally done this- don’t panic! It happens; your account runs low, and you were unaware. You won’t be facing criminal charges. For people who write bad checks by mistake, banks usually charge a small fee. In order to get a theft charge, there must be proof of intent to steal.
Accepting/Purchasing Stolen Property in TX
Even if you did not steal the property, you could still face theft charges if you take stolen property.
You may be wondering, what if you didn’t know it was stolen? This is a complicated question. In Texas, prosecutors are only required to prove that you “should have known” it was stolen. So, if you were unaware, but there were enough reasons to believe it may be stolen, you can be charged.
Some signs you may be buying stolen property include:
- Getting a deal that is too good to be true, like $10,000 worth of goods for $200.
- The seller says they ‘found’ the item.
- If there are passcodes on the electronic devices.
Specialized Theft Offenses
In addition to general theft offenses, Texas has designated special categories for other types of theft.
Texas Theft of Services
This occurs when someone intentionally doesn’t pay for services they acquired. For example, if someone hires a maid service to clean their home, then never pays them for their time and labor. There are no tangible goods stolen, but the workers are not compensated for the service they provided.
Texas Theft of Trade Secrets
Trade secrets are intellectual property that holds economic value because they are not known to the public. The most common example of this is Coca-Cola’s recipe. If their recipe became widely known, other companies could steal it and produce the exact same drink. This would make Coca-Cola’s product less valuable.
Theft of trade secrets occurs when someone shares the secret or steals it, thus decreasing its value.
Texas Penalties for Theft Crimes
Penalties in theft crime cases are largely contingent on the unique facts and circumstances of your case. In particular, the following factors can influence punishment handed down by the court:
- The nature of the offense (i.e. shoplifting vs. robbery)
- The amount of money or value of property involved
- Prior criminal convictions of theft
These factors are critical in theft crime cases, as they can mean the difference between no incarceration time to years in state or federal prison. For example, prior theft convictions can increase the severity of penalties. Because “theft crime” is an umbrella term that can refer to many different types of state crimes the following are common theft offenses:
- Burglary, including burglary of car, home, or uninhabited building
- Receiving stolen property
- Auto Theft
- Robbery, including armed robbery
- Fraud, including insurance, tax, and health care fraud
- Money laundering
The charge for theft could range from a misdemeanor all the way up to a first-degree felony.
If the value of the goods is less than $2,500, you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor.
You could face:
- Up to $4,000 in fines
- Up to one year in jail
If the goods are valued between $2,500 and $30,000, it will be considered a state-jail felony offense.
This results in:
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Up to two years in state jail
If a weapon was used during the commission of the crime, it will be elevated to a standard felony charge.
For goods valued over $30,000, you could be facing felony theft charges. This may result in up to:
- $10,000 in fines
- 20 years in prison
If the value of goods stolen is over $300,000, you could be facing first-degree felony charges.
First-degree theft is punishable by:
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Up to 99 years in prison
Other first-degree felonies in Texas include: murder, arson, kidnapping, and assault.
Defending Against Theft Charges in Texas
You need a Houston, Conroe, and The Woodlands theft crime lawyer who knows how to defend you. The right Houston, Conroe, and The Woodlands theft crime attorney is someone with local experience who understands how Texas laws are read and enforced in Houston, Conroe, and The Woodlands criminal courts.
Common defenses against theft charges include:
- That you had no intent to steal, it was an honest mistake
- That you had right to the property
- You were young at the time of the offense
- That you were intoxicated at the time of the offense
Our firm proudly represents individuals charged with crimes in Texas, including theft offenses such as shoplifting, fraud, theft of services, and embezzlement. Our Houston, Conroe, and The Woodlands theft crime attorneys are knowledgeable, strong, and equipped to handle even the most challenging cases. We’re the fighters you want on your side.