Facing Theft Charges in Texas

In Texas, theft is an offense that is penalized in large part according to the dollar value of the item stolen.

Elements of the Crime

In Texas the crime of theft consists of three elements, all of which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to win a conviction:

 

  • Taking the property of another
  • Lacking both legal justification or the consent of the owner
  • With the intent to deprive the owner of the property

Unconventional Means of Theft

You can be convicted of theft for buying an automobile from someone without receiving a valid certificate of title. Likewise, you can be convicted of theft for failing to register the vehicle with the county tax collector or assessor within 20 days of buying it.

 

You can also be convicted of theft for writing a bad check. If the check was written on a closed account, theft charges can be filed immediately. Even if the account was open, you may have to pay the merchant within 10 days to avoid theft charges.

 

Finally, you can be convicted of theft in Texas if an undercover law enforcement officer tells you it is stolen and you take it or buy it from him, even if the property is not in fact stolen. This provision helps the police execute “sting” operations, because entrapment is not a defense to theft in Texas.

Penalties

Penalties for theft vary widely in Texas depending on the value of the item. A first offense of theft of an item valued at less than $50 is not punishable by jail time, although a fine of up to $500 can be imposed. By contrast, theft of an item worth more than $200,000 can result in a sentence of 99 years in prison. For a first offense, you would need to be convicted of stealing an item worth at least $1,500 to be sentenced to incarceration for more than a year. Penalties increase dramatically for multiple offenders – in fact, a third offense of theft of an item of any value at all is an automatic felony. Moreover, certain people such as public servants and government contractors receive harsher penalties than members of the general public.

$200,000 or more

$100,000 – 199,999.99

$20,000 – 99,999.99

$1,500 – $19,999.99

$500 – $1,499.99

$50 – $499.99

Less than $50

1st degree felony

2nd degree felony

3rd degree felony

State Jail Felony

Class A Misdemeanor

Class B Misdemeanor

Class C Misdemeanor

Theft of Service

Another type of theft is theft of Service. In Texas the crime of theft of service consists of the following elements, all of which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to win a conviction:

 

With intent to avoid payment for service that the actor knows is provided only for compensation:

 

  • The actor intentionally or knowingly secures performance of the service by deception, threat, or false token;
  • Having control over the disposition of services of another to which the actor is not entitled, the actor intentionally or knowingly diverts the other’s services to the actor’s own benefit or to the benefit of another not entitled to the services;
  • Having control of personal property under a written rental agreement, the actor holds the property beyond the expiration of the rental period without the effective consent of the owner of the property, thereby depriving the owner of the property of its use in further rentals;
  • The actor intentionally or knowingly secures the performance of the service by agreeing to provide compensation and, after the service is rendered, fails to make full payment after receiving notice demanding payment.

$200,000 or more

$100,000 – 199,999.99

$20,000 – 99,999.99

$1,500 – $19,999.99

$500 – $1,499.99

$20 – $499.99

Less than $20

1st degree felony

2nd degree felony

3rd degree felony

State Jail Felony

Class A Misdemeanor

Class B Misdemeanor

Class C Misdemeanor

Contact Attorney Linda S. Corley Now

A theft charge is a major problem in Texas, especially if the value of the item is high or if you have prior offenses. The fact is, no matter what level of theft is on your record, you will have a difficult time getting a job. You don’t have to simply take whatever deal the prosecutor offers you, however, particularly if you have retained a skilled criminal attorney. I will fight hard for you, whether in court or at the plea bargaining table, and I will aggressively confront your accusers to win either an outright acquittal or reduced charges.

If you have been accused of theft, contact Corley Legal, PLLC today.