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
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.