Texas is a state that’s known for its hard line on crime and its judicial application of the law. Law enforcement and judicial personnel have a wide variety of classifications for possible crimes in order to best apply punishment against an individual who has committed a crime.
As the state is particularly strict against various types of theft of property, it’s important that you know the various charges and possible penalties you are facing. This allows you to better defend yourself or, even better, avoid being charged entirely.
Theft: Petty And Grand
Theft, as a whole type of crime, is split into two sub-types. Theft is defined across both sub-types as the unlawful appropriation of someone else’s property, along with an intention to prevent that person from using or having their property back. Unlawful, in this sense, is usually defined by a lack of consent from the party which is having property taken from them.
The names of the two theft sub-types denote the amount of economic or financial damage incurred by the accused. This boundary between the types is called the “statutory amount”, which varies between states. In Texas, the statutory amount is over $500.
Petty theft, therefore, is the stealing of property that adds up to less than $500. This is usually qualified as a misdemeanor. The punishment for this crime is often less than grand theft and is usually a fine or a short prison sentence, although this depends on the judge.
Grand theft is the stealing of property worth over $500. This is qualified as a felony in most states, including Texas. The punishment for this crime can often be prison for up to three years, although this varies by case and judge.
Robbery is an extension of the general theft crime, although it incorporates an element of bodily fear or harm. Bank robberies are often classified as robberies due to this human element, for instance.
Harm does not need to actually be incurred on another person for you to be charged with robbery. Instead, all that must be proven is an intent to harm or the threat of harm. If you accidentally cause bodily harm without intent during a theft, you may still be charged with robbery because bodily harm was incurred despite your intentions.
Another variant of robbery is aggravated robbery, which is a robbery where the accused uses a weapon or causes or threatens more serious bodily harm. In addition, any harm to a child, disabled person, or person 65 and over automatically makes a robbery charge into an aggravated robbery charge, regardless of intent.
Robberies are usually considered first or second-degree felonies. The degree denotes the level of severity of the crime; aggravated robbery is usually considered more intense, and thus is a first-degree felony, while regular robbery is often, although not always, classified as a second-degree felony.
Burglary has two possible applications, although only the first is well-known. The first type is the intention entrance into a building with the intent to commit some kind of damage or harm, including theft. This is often proven easily if the building entered by the accused is locked.
The second type of burglary is applied when a person remains concealed with the intent to cause harm or steal inside a building. This means that those who remain inside a work building until after hours, for instance, with the intent to steal will still be accused of burglary even though they technically did not unlawfully enter the building in the first place.
Both types of burglary are usually considered to be felonies.
Car theft can be easily classified according to the above definition of theft, in which the accused takes property, in this case, a car, from another person without intending to return it later. This allows criminals who steal cars to escape from a situation and abandon the car without intending to keep it to still be charged with car theft.
Car theft and grand theft auto are the same crime, in most cases, as grand theft auto is the stealing of property over $500. This means that virtually all car theft is considered in the “grand” category.
There are a few different kinds of car theft crimes to further distinguish actions in a court of law. Carjacking is car theft specifically via taking of the vehicle from the owner by force or a threat of force. This is a serious version of car theft.
Joyriding, on the other hand, is simply using a car without the owner’s permission. This can be without the owner’s awareness, as well. This is still classified as theft despite most joyriders intending to return the used vehicle once they are done.
Failing to return a rental car is also classified as a type of car theft. This type and all of the above types are considered to be felonies in Texas and most other states.
Know Your Rights When Accused Of Theft Crimes
Knowing your rights and the classification of different crimes is important for anyone accused of a crime and the health of the justice system as a whole. If you’ve been arrested or accused of theft crimes in Texas, there are those willing to help you, such as Attorney Aaron W. Perry. Please call today for a consultation and get the assistance you need to defend yourself against any of the theft crimes discussed above.
Bellaire, TX 77401