When Theft Becomes a Felony
Above the $2,500 threshold, theft charges become felonies. What’s called State Jail Felony Theft encompasses:
- Theft of more than $2,500 but less than $30,000
- Theft of less than $2,500 for a second or subsequent offense
- Theft from another person, a grave or a corpse
- Theft of a firearm, an election ballot, or certain livestock and metals
Penalties are a fine of no more than $10,000, imprisonment from 180 days to two years, or both. The charge is bumped to the next level of felony if a deadly weapon was used or exhibited or if the defendant had a prior felony conviction.
Third-Degree Felony Theft
Third-Degree Felony Theft involves the theft of more than $30,000 but less than $150,000 or involves the theft of certain livestock valued at $150,000 or less, or the property was stolen is a controlled substance valued at less than $150,000 and was stolen from a commercial building where controlled substances are stored. The punishment is a fine of no more than $10,000, imprisonment from two to ten years, or both.
Second-Degree Felony Theft
Second-Degree Felony Theft limits are more than $150,000 but less than $300,000, or it involves the theft of an ATM or its contents valued at less than $300,000. Punishment is a fine of not more than $10,000, prison time of two to 20 years, or both.
First-Degree Felony Theft
First-Degree Felony Theft is of property or services worth more than $300,000. Punishment is a fine of not more than $10,000, two to 99 years in prison, or both.
If there are certain aggravating or enhanced factors involved in the theft, the level of crime can be bumped up to the next level, for instance, from Class B to Class A. These factors include:
- Property stolen while under the control of a public servant or someone in a contract position with the government
- The owner of the property is 65 years of age or older or is a nonprofit organization
- Property stolen while under the control of a Medicare provider
- The perpetrator caused a fire alarm to go off or prevented it from going off
On top of and separate from the criminal penalties outlined above, the victim of the theft can sue for restitution of the value of item or items stolen (if they are not returned in proper condition), a civil penalty of not more than $1,000, and legal costs and fees.
to a Theft Charge
Remember, a criminal trial must involve proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and if a jury is impaneled, they must concur without dissent on a guilty verdict. This leaves the defense team room to cast doubt and challenge evidence and testimony. Some common defense strategies include:
It Was an Honest Mistake
The item may have gone unnoticed in your shopping cart, or it could have been loaned to you and you forgot to return it. Or you had no idea it was stolen when you acquired it.
You Were Under Duress
You or a family member may have been threatened by a gang or other person or group to carry out the theft or suffer dire consequences.
You Were Entrapped
Someone else lured you into carrying out the theft, perhaps as part of a police sting operation. An overzealous security guard may have harassed you into what seemed like theft but wasn’t.
You Did Not Know the Goods Were Stolen
Texas law considers it theft when you acquire stolen goods. If someone gives you a stolen item and you don’t know it’s stolen, that can be a solid defense.
Work with An Experienced
Innocent people are oftentimes the victim of circumstances or a momentary lapse in judgment in a moment of duress. We understand human challenges and choices, so a lot of our efforts will focus on explaining your situation and mental state at the time of the alleged crime to the district attorney. This extra effort can sometimes lead to a lighter charge or even a dismissal of all charges.
Regardless of what led to you facing charges of theft, you have rights that need to be protected. If you or someone you know has been charged with theft, you deserve to have an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner to devise a strong defense and fight the charges against you. Call or reach out to the Law Offices of Thomas R. Cox III today for reliable legal counsel and representation.