When most people think about property crimes, they think about shoplifting or robbery. However, theft in Texas covers a much larger body of crimes against and towards property, from simple theft to burglaries. It is important to understand what exactly is unlawful to avoid being convicted of these types of crimes.
A person commits a theft if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property. Usually, the appropriation is unlawful because the person does not have the owner’s consent to take it. This is the simplest definition of theft, found in §31.03 of the Texas Penal Code.
Robbery is simply a theft with the added element of bodily harm or fear. It is a second degree felony.
In order to convict someone of robbery, the prosecution must show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:
- During the course of a theft;
- He had the intent to obtain or maintain control of property; and
- He intentionally, knowingly or recklessly caused bodily injury to another; or
- Intentionally or knowingly threatened the other with imminent bodily harm.
Robbery is found in section §29.02 of the Texas Penal Code.
Aggravated Robbery is found in §29.03. Aggravated robbery is committed if, in the course of a robbery, the offender causes serious bodily harm to the victim; uses or exhibits a weapon; or causes harm or threatens harm to a person who is over age 65 or disabled. Aggravated robbery is a first degree felony.
Burglary is the entrance into a building, or remaining concealed, with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assault. Burglary is found in §30.02 of the Texas Penal Code. Burglary is a state jail felony or a second of first degree felony if the building is a habitation.
Other Property Crimes
There are a wide variety of other property crimes found in the Texas Penal Code. These are some of the most commonly charged property crimes:
- §28.02: Arson—starting a fire or causing an explosion with the intent to destroy vegetation or a structure/vehicle. Whether this offense is a felony or misdemeanor, and of what degree/type, depends on the property burned and where it is located.
- §28.03: Criminal Mischief — tampering, damaging, or marking up property. The cost of the property damage determines whether this crime is a misdemeanor of felony, and of what degree/class. Graffiti is a related crime, found under §28.08, but the punishments are similar.
- §30.05: Trespass – entering onto property after receiving notice that entrance is forbidden, or failing to leave after being told to do so. Trespass is a misdemeanor.
A number of factors are taken into consideration when you are charged with a theft crime. These include your past record and whether or not you used a weapon when you committed the crime. All these factors are considered to determine the severity of the charge and the maximum penalty you will receive if the charges are proven. This is why it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Texas at the time you are charged.
Effective legal representation in Texas is not only the key to improving your chances of acquittal, but you must be properly advised of your rights. The Law Firm of Aaron W. Perry, PLLC will provide you the advice and guidance you need to decide on the right course of action for your defense. Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer in Texas can mean the difference between paying a small fine and jail time.
If you have been arrested or accused of any of the above theft or property crimes, it’s important to speak with a criminal defense attorney as early as possible in your case. Attorney Aaron W. Perry understands the complexities of theft and property crime and he’s ready to help fight for you.