What Constitutes Theft In Houston, Texas?
Under Texas law, theft is defined as when a person “unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property,” which essentially means that someone has taken another’s property without permission or for any lawful reason and does not intend to return the property.
Under the Texas theft statute, general theft has been defined to include most of the non-violent theft offenses, including shoplifting, swindling, worthless checks, embezzlement, extortion, and receiving or concealing stolen property as examples.
Other types of theft crimes in Texas include robbery, burglary, and fraud.
What Are The Differences Between Theft, Burglary, Robbery, And Fraud?
As stated above, the general charge of theft covers most of the commonly considered acts of theft with intent to deprive another of their property.
Burglary is an enhanced theft crime committed by a defendant who enters a house or business not open to the public with the intent to steal property from the building. The intent to commit the theft is sufficient intent for a burglary conviction. It is not required that the defendant actually completed the intended theft.
Robbery is an enhanced theft crime committed by a defendant who steals property from a victim using violence or the reasonable threat of violence against the victim or other persons.
Aggravated robbery is a robbery that includes serious bodily injury or a reasonable threat of imminent bodily injury or death as a result of the robbery or robbery committed by using or displaying a deadly weapon. Aggravated robbery also is committed when the robbery victim is disabled or is 65 years old or older.
Fraud includes acts of theft committed through false pretenses. Fraud includes stealing property through false statements intended to deceive a victim, acts of forgery or false impersonation, and hindering secured creditors (for example, a bank) by hiding or concealing secured property subject to a repossession.
Fraud crimes also include making false statements to financial institutions with the intent to deceive the institution into entering into any contract under false pretenses.
Are There Defenses To Theft Charges?
In general, effective defenses to theft charges involve attacking the element of intent to deprive the victim of their property.
Some defenses include mistake (the belief that the defendant was the rightful owner of the property or unintentionally taking property without meaning to keep it permanently), lack of fraudulent intent, duress, and permissive use of the property by the owner.
These types of defenses are very dependent on the specific facts of your case, and you should discuss all beneficial facts you know about with your attorney.
What Type Of Penalties Do I Face If Convicted?
Theft crimes in Texas are generally punished based upon the value of the property stolen.
Some specific theft crimes have separate penalties based on the nature of the property stolen or the victim from whom the property was stolen.
Theft of property valued at less than $100 carries a maximum fine of $500.
Theft of property valued between $100 and $750 carries a maximum jail term of 180 days and a maximum fine of $2,000.
Theft of property valued between $750 and $2,500 carries a maximum jail term of one year and a maximum fine of $4,000.
Theft of property valued between $2,500 and $30,000 carries a jail term between 180 days and two years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Theft of property valued between $30,000 and $150,000 carries a prison term between two and 10 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Theft of property valued between $150,000 and $300,000 carries a prison term between two and 20 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Theft of property valued more than $300,000 carries a prison term between five and 99 years or life and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Burglary carries a prison term of two to 99 years or life and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Robbery carries a prison term of two to 20 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Aggravated robbery carries a prison term of five to 99 years or life and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Contact An Experienced Houston Trial Attorney If You Are Facing A Theft Charge
If you’ve been accused or arrested on a theft-related charge in Texas, contact the Law Firm of Aaron W. Perry, PLLC. We can protect your rights, defend you in the case, and help you obtain the best possible outcome.
You can reach us by phone at (713) 393-7788 or via our online contact form.