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Texas Theft Laws

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Texas Theft Laws

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Theft Laws in Texas

In Texas, the law is clear: steal something that doesn’t belong to you and you can expect to be punished. Although theft in Texas is a relatively common offense, this doesn’t mean that law enforcement doesn’t take this crime seriously. Whether someone steals one cheap item or an expensive car, the legal system can hand out severe sentences.

Recently, Texas initiated a major update to state laws concerning theft crimes. These updated laws reflect a new way of dealing with this common crime. Understanding these new changes can help people accused of this crime prepare a legal defense.

Texas Theft Definition

Section 31.01 of the Texas Penal Code defines theft as an unlawful action which involves taking property that belongs to another person with the express intention to deprive the owner of that property. This action is considered illegal if it occurs:

  • Without the owner’s consent
  • While the person receiving property knows that the property was stolen
  • While the person receiving the property is told by law enforcement that the property is stolen

For example, David lives next door to Richard. David walks into Richard’s garage one day and takes his lawn mower without permission and with no intention of returning it. David has committed theft.

In another example, an undercover police officer approaches Maria and offers to give her a TV that he claims was stolen. Maria agrees and accepts the “stolen” TV. Maria can be placed under arrest and charged with theft.

Theft Penalties

In Texas, the penalties for a theft crime can be determined based on the value of the stolen property. This means that a person who steals an inexpensive item may be punished less harshly than a person who steals a very expensive piece of property. It also means that a person who steals a car worth $20,000 can be punished in a similar manner as a person who steals $20,000 worth of lawn equipment.

On September 1, 2015, the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill which amended several laws, including the section of the Texas Penal Code that covers theft offenses. The monetary categories applied to certain theft crimes were increased. This means that a person charged with theft may face a less severe punishment when compared to the old law.

The categories of theft punishments include:

  • Theft of property valued at less than $100 is a Class C misdemeanor
  • Theft of property valued at $100-$750 is a Class B misdemeanor
  • Theft of property valued at $750-2500 is a Class A misdemeanor
  • Theft of property valued at $2500-$30,000 is a state jail felony
  • Theft of property valued at $30,000-$150,000 is a third degree felony
  • Theft of property valued at $150,000 to $300,000 is a second degree felony
  • Theft of property valued at over $300,000 is a first degree felony

Certain actions can increase the penalty category for a theft crime. For example, theft committed against an elderly or disabled person, theft of a firearm or theft with the use of a weapon can automatically increase the penalty range for a theft crime.

Legal Defenses

Hiring a defense attorney is the best course of action when a person is charged with a theft crime. With careful planning, a defense attorney may be able to help a defendant fight theft charges in a court of law. They may also be able to help a defendant arrange a plea deal with the judge and the state prosecution.

By agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser offense, the defendant may receive a plea deal to lessen or eliminate any time behind bars. Consulting with an attorney is the best way for a defendant to find out more about their legal options.

Are you seeking legal defense after being charged with theft? In circumstances like this, it’s vital to get an attorney as quickly as possible. Contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros today at (832) 752-5972 and get the representation you need.

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