theft

Theft: The Basics Under Texas Law

By Peek & Toland on March 21, 2019

The criminal offense of theft occurs under Tex. Pen. Code § 31.03 when individuals unlawfully appropriate property belonging to others, with the intent of depriving the owners of the benefit and use of the property. Generally, appropriation is unlawful when one of the following situations occurs:

·         The owners of the property do not give consent to the appropriation,

·         The individuals appropriate the property with the knowledge that it is stolen, or

·         The property was in the custody of a law enforcement agency, a law enforcement agent represented it as stolen, and the individuals that appropriated believe it to be stolen

 

Theft: The Basics Under Texas Law

The level of the charge and the resulting penalties depends largely on the value of the stolen property. Generally, theft is a misdemeanor if the value of the property is less than $2,500, and a felony if the value of the property is $2,500 or more. However, some thefts automatically qualify as a higher level of offense due to the nature of the property. For instance, theft of a firearm is a state jail felony charge under Texas law, regardless of the value of the firearm, as well as any item stolen from a grave, and official ballots from an election.

Furthermore, certain characteristics of the accused persons or the owners of the stolen property also can elevate the charge to the next highest level of offense. For example, if the owner of the stolen property is an elderly individual or a nonprofit organization, then the offense automatically increases to the next level of offense than the theft normally would be. In some cases, this can cause a theft offense to increase from a misdemeanor or a felony.  

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.

Posted in Theft Crimes

Tagged with:

Shoplifting and Texas Law

By Peek & Toland on March 6, 2019

Tex. Pen. Code § 31.03, which is the code section that generally contains all consolidated theft offenses, encompasses the criminal offense of shoplifting. Theft occurs when individuals “unlawfully appropriate property with intent to deprive the owner of property.” The appropriation of property is unlawful if it is:

• Without the owner’s consent
• Stolen and the actor knows that it is stolen, or
• In the custody of a law enforcement agency, a law enforcement agent has represented it as stolen, and the actor reasonably believes that it is stolen

Given this broad definition of theft, all types of shoplifting fall within it. Theft includes not only taking merchandise from a store without paying for it, but also switching price tags on items in order to pay a lower price, and concealing items on your person or in your purse. You may be charged with theft even if you never left the store with the merchandise. If you had the intent to remove the items from the store without paying for them, then you may face shoplifting charges. Even if you were simply watching to make sure that your friend didn’t get caught shoplifting, and didn’t take any action to steal an item, you still could face charges under code section dealing with theft.

Shoplifting and Texas Law

The level of charges that you will face for shoplifting largely depend on the value and type of the items stolen and whether you have previous theft convictions. For instance, if the property involves items with a value of under $100, the charge is a Class C misdemeanor, whose only penalty is a maximum $500 fine.
However, shoplifting charges are a Class B misdemeanor in any of the following cases:

• The value of the property involved is more than $100, but less than $750,
• The value of the property involved is less than $100, but the individual has a previous theft conviction, or
• The property involved is a driver’s license or personal ID card issued by Texas or any other state

Conviction on a Class B misdemeanor can result in up to 180 days in jail and $2,000 in fines, or both.
It is not as common for a shoplifting offense to involve high-dollar items. If this does occur, both the level of the charges and the penalties increase as the value of the items increases.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.

Posted in Theft Crimes

Tagged with: ,

Theft of Firearms

By Peek & Toland on February 16, 2019

Theft occurs pursuant to Tex. Pen. Code § 31.03 when persons unlawfully appropriate property belonging to others without their consent and with the intent to deprive the owners of their property. This offense includes what is commonly known as receiving stolen property, or appropriating property with the knowledge that it has been stolen by others.

“Consent” to the appropriation of property does not exist if it was:
• Induced by deception or coercion
• Given by anyone whom the individuals know has no authority to act on behalf of the owner
• Given by anyone whom the individuals know is unable to make reasonable property dispositions, due to youth or mental disease or defect
• Given solely to detect the commission of an offense
• Given by anyone whom the individuals know has a diminished capacity to make decisions as a result of advanced age

The level of the charges and the potential penalties for theft typically depend on the value of the property that is the subject of the theft. However, there are exceptions to this general rule for certain kinds of property. In the case of a firearm, the charge is automatically a state jail felony. This is the case even though theft usually does not reach the level of a felony offense unless it involves property valued at $2,500 or more. Nonetheless, even if a firearm is not worth $2,500 or more, the charge is still a felony.

Theft of Firearms

For a state jail felony, Tex. Pen. Code § 12.35 prescribes a potential penalty of 180 days to two years in jail, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. However, if the individuals who stole the firearm previously were convicted of certain felony offenses, then the offense becomes a third degree felony. Conviction on a third degree felony can result in a prison term ranging from two to ten years and a maximum $10,000 fine.

An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case, present your options, and help you make the decisions that will be most beneficial to you, based on your circumstances. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

Posted in Criminal Defense

Tagged with:

How Can We Help You?

Our team is standing by to help. Call us at (512) 474-4445 or complete this form to send a message about your legal situation.