Misdemeanor theft charges in Texas are serious legal matters. Even a misdemeanor theft offense is considered a crime of moral turpitude and a conviction will have consequences on your professional and personal life.
In addition to fines and possible jail time, you will have a permanent criminal record so a misdemeanor theft conviction will show up on background checks. This can have negative consequences on your current and future employment, credit, ability to get federal loans and qualify for housing.
A misdemeanor theft charge cannot be taken lightly. If you are facing theft charges, you need an experienced Houston theft lawyer on your side. Working with the right attorney early on in the criminal process will give you the best chance of avoiding a conviction.
Defining Misdemeanor Theft Charges in Texas
In Texas, a person commits theft if he or she unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of his or her property. Texas Penal Code Section 31.02 consolidates shoplifting, identity theft, embezzlement, extortion, forgery, fraud, robbery and burglary under one single category of theft.
Theft can take a variety of forms, but one core aspect of all theft offenses is that property is taken without the owner’s consent. Texas classifies theft offenses based on the value of the stolen property and there are three classes of misdemeanor theft. In certain circumstances, the type of stolen property will dictate the punishment level.
Penalties for a Misdemeanor Theft Conviction
The Texas Legislature recently adjusted the values correlating to the punishment level for theft offenses. The changes went into effect as of September 1, 2015. The penalties can be found in Texas Penal Code Section 31.03.
- Class C Misdemeanor — The value of the stolen property is less than $100. This carries a punishment of up to a $500 fine.
- Class B Misdemeanor — The value of the stolen property is more than $100 but less than $750. If the stolen property is a driver’s license, commercial driver’s license, or personal identification certificate issued by a state, it is a Class B misdemeanor. This carries a punishment of no more than 180 days in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
- Class A Misdemeanor — The value of the stolen property is more than $750 but less than $2,500. This carries a punishment of no more than one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
Prior theft convictions can result in enhanced penalties. If the value of the stolen property is less than $100, you can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor instead of a Class C misdemeanor, if you have been previously convicted of any theft offense. If the value of the stolen property is less than $2,500, you can be charged with a state jail felony instead of a Class A or Class B misdemeanor, if you have been previously convicted of any theft offense two or more times.
If convicted of a misdemeanor theft offense, you may lose your job or ability to obtain student loans as it is considered a crime of moral turpitude. Crimes of moral turpitude are defined as those that involve dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or deliberate violence. Having a theft offense on your record may also prevent you from obtaining professional licensing or make it difficult for you to obtain employment.
A victim of theft has the right to bring a civil lawsuit for damages under the Texas Theft Liability Act. If you are convicted of shoplifting, you could be ordered to pay for the value of the stolen property and up to $1,000 in damages in addition to the criminal penalties you will face. These lawsuits are most common in shoplifting cases.
Contact a Houston Misdemeanor Theft Lawyer
If you have been accused of theft and are facing criminal charges, you should contact Houston misdemeanor theft lawyer Ned Barnett immediately to discuss your legal options. Barnett is a proven criminal defense lawyer with over 25 years of experience defending clients against theft charges. As a former state and federal prosecutor, he has extensive court experience and unique insight into the prosecutor’s perspective. This gives him an edge in negotiating with prosecutors and building effective defense strategies.
Barnett is board certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is well respected within the legal profession. He is recognized as a leader in his field and has been invited to speak to other attorneys about criminal defense law.
Barnett understands how devastating misdemeanor theft charges in Texas can be for the person accused and he will do everything possible to protect your reputation and future. He fights to obtain the best possible result for his clients so that they can move on with their lives and leave the stress of a criminal charge behind them.
The Law Offices of Ned Barnett are dedicated to providing personal, one-on-one communication. If you or a loved one are facing theft charges, contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 today to schedule a consultation about your case.