Have you been arrested for theft in Fort Worth, Arlington, or other part of Tarrant County? This is a serious charge that can have unintended consequences that go beyond the criminal charges. For instance, theft is considered a crime of “moral turpitude,” which means it can interfere with your ability to go to law school or medical school. However, there are Defenses to Theft. If you are facing a theft charge, you need to talk to any attorney and develop a gameplan.

What Theft Means in Texas

In Texas, a person commits theft if that person unlawfully takes property with the intent keep the property from the rightful owner of that property. The statute on theft crimes comes from Section 31.03 in the Texas Penal Code. This definition is a complicated way of saying that you take something that belongs to someone else, and you don’t have their consent or any other legal defense for doing so. There are many different kinds of theft, such as Identity Theft, Credit Card Abuse, and more serious charges such as Burglary or Robbery.

Theft and the Intent to Permanently Deprive

In addition, you must intend to keep it. This is an important distinction. For example, this is the difference between stealing a car and joyriding. If the state cannot prove that you intended to permanently deprive the owner of their car, you will beat the theft charge. In cases where intent to deprive may be an issue, the indictment or complaint will charges for both theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle, a lesser included offense. This allows the state to fall back on the lesser charge. However, double jeopardy prevents a person from being convicted for both charges.

What are the Penalties for Theft in Texas?

The offense that a person will be charged depends on the value of the property or services. Petty theft is the lowest charge, which applies if the value of the property or services is less than $50, and is considered a Class C misdemeanor. The penalties go up from there.

Value of Property or Services Penalty

Less than $50 Class C Misdemeanor
Between $50 and $500 Class B Misdemeanor
Between $500 and $1,500 Class A Misdemeanor
Between $1,500 and $20,000 State Jail Felony
Between $20,000 and $100,000 Third Degree Felony
Between $100,000 and $200,000 Second Degree Felony
Over $200,000 First Degree Felony

Enhancement of Charges

Theft of property or services valued at less than $50 will be charged as a Class B instead of a Class C if that person has any prior theft conviction. Any misdemeanor theft of property or services less than $1,500 will be charged as a State Jail Felony if that person has two or more prior convictions for any level of theft.