Under Texas law, theft is summarily defined as unlawfully appropriating property with the intent to deprive the owner of his or her property. This definition is straightforward on its face, but Texas’s definition of theft is very broad, and many different types of acts and offenses can be classified as theft crimes.
Houston criminal defense attorney Aaron W. Perry represents defendants who have been charged with crimes, including theft. Our clients facing criminal charges are sometimes surprised to learn that under Texas law, the allegations made against them constitute the crime of theft.
Definition of Property
For theft purposes, ‘property’ includes real property and tangible or intangible personal property. Property can also mean a document that represents anything of value, such as money, a promissory note, a deed, or a stock certificate.
What It Means To Deprive An Owner Of Property
Deprivation can include any of the following actions:
Taking property from the owner and keeping it from them permanently.
Keeping property from an owner for so long that he or she loses the value or enjoyment of the property.
Disposing of property in a way that makes recovery by the owner unlikely.
Keeping an owner’s property until he or she provides you with a reward or other compensation.
Consequences Of Theft Convictions
Theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony in Texas. Fines and jail time vary based mostly on the value of the property stolen and whether or not you have prior theft convictions. Imprisonment for theft can range from no jail time to 99 years in prison and fines of less than $500 up to $10,000.
Acts That You May Not Realize Constitute As Theft
See below for examples of conduct that amounts to theft under Texas law.
Hiring someone to landscape your yard or take care of your pet for an agreed-upon price can result in theft charges if you refuse to pay them.
Receiving stolen goods can also be considered theft, even if you did not realize the goods were stolen in some cases. For example, the purchaser of a used vehicle may be accused of knowingly receiving a stolen vehicle if he or she fails to report that the seller did not issue a valid certificate of title for the vehicle.
Writing a check for services rendered when you did not have sufficient funds in your account to cover the amount of the check.
Borrowing a car or a boat without the owner’s permission.
Deceiving someone into giving you their property.
Possessing or distributing a tool or instrument that shields or deactivates a retail theft detector when you know that it will be used to steal merchandise.
Houston Theft Charges Attorney
If you have been, or believe you are going to be charged with theft in Texas, Houston criminal defense attorney Aaron W. Perry can help. We know that being accused of a crime does not mean you are guilty, and we will aggressively defend the case against you.