Texas law defines theft as an umbrella term for several offenses including theft by false pretext, conversion by a bailee, theft from a person, shoplifting, acquisition of property by threat, swindling, embezzlement, or extortion. Anyone who has been charged with a theft crime could face serious penalties and repercussions if they are convicted. Some of these punishments including having a criminal record, an inability to pursue certain jobs or professions, ineligibility to be admitted to certain colleges, jail or prison time, and steep fines.
In some cases, a theft crime can happen incidentally. Such as when a person accidentally walks out of a store with an item in their bag they unknowingly took. However, the law may not see your actions as innocent. Texas prosecutors will attempt to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law if you’ve been charged with theft.
If you have been charged with a theft offense in Georgetown, it is important to hire an experienced criminal lawyer to help you create your best defense.
Lawyer for Theft Crimes in Georgetown, TX
If you have been charged with any theft crime in Georgetown area, then we suggest you get in contact with Price & Twine, PLLC. Attorney Michael J. Price is knowledgeable in all areas of Texas’ theft laws and will make every effort to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Don’t wait another moment to fight your charges and contact the Price & Twine, PLLC.
You can contact the Law Office of Michael J. Price for a free consultation at (512) 354-1880 about your alleged violent crime. From there he can sit with you, answer your legal questions and do whatever’s possible to defend your case effectively. Michael J. Price represents people from the Williamson and Bell County area including Round Rock, Cedar Park, Leander, Taylor, Hutto, Killeen, Temple, Belton or Harker Heights.
Overview of Theft Crimes in Texas
- Theft Laws in Texas
- Types of Theft Offenses in Texas
- How Much Jail or Prison Time Can You Get from Theft?
- What Are the Penalties for Theft in Texas?
- Aggravated Theft Penalties in Texas
- Civil Penalties for Theft in Texas
- Additional Theft Resources in Texas
Theft Laws in Texas
The term “theft” serves as an overhead definition for several offenses. The crime can range from simple petty theft to intricate embezzlement or swindling schemes in major corporations. The Texas Penal Code Section 31.03 states you’re guilty of theft if you unlawfully take another person’s property or intentionally deprive another person of property or services.
It’s unlawful to take another person’s property if you:
- Didn’t have the consent of the owner;
- Possessed the property knowing it was stolen; or
- The property was taken from law enforcement without proper authorization
The following are not admissible defenses to the crime of theft in Texas.
- You were given an opportunity to commit the crime by law enforcement;
- Law enforcement used deception such as undercover officers to help you steal or attempt to steal property or services; or
- You were solicited to commit theft unknowingly by law enforcement and their encouraging solicitation had you to commit the offense
Types of Theft Crimes in Texas
When hearing the word “theft,” you probably are reminded of someone stealing from a retailer or merchant. However, in Texas larceny can happen in a variety of ways such as writing a bad check or not providing promised services. Listed below are some offenses that are considered theft in the state of Texas.
- Swindling with a worthless check
- Grand theft
- Acquiring property through threats
- Possessing embezzled property
- Possessing stolen property
- Theft of services
- Theft by false pretext
- Theft of trade secrets
How Much Prison or Jail Time Can You Get for Theft?
Theft is an incredibly broad offense, so the sentencing differs on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the circumstances, you could be facing felony-level charges. Nearly all theft charges have penalties that include fines, possible incarceration and restitution.
Listed below are the possible consequences for committing theft in Texas.
Level of Offense
|Fine||Jail or Prison Time|
Class C Misdemeanor
Class B Misdemeanor
Up to 180 days in jail
Class A Misdemeanor
Up to 12 months in jail
State Jail Felony
Up to 24 months in state jail
Up to 10 years in prison
Up to 20 years in prison
Minimum of 5 years and maximum of life in prison
What Are the Penalties for Theft in Texas?
Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code defines the penalties for many theft crimes in Texas. These penalties can vary depending on the value of the property taken, whether a weapon was used to commit the offense, the age of the victim and whether the alleged offender has any previous criminal history. The value of the property is determined by the current fair market value or the replacement costs to repair the property if broken. If the court is unable to find a fair market price, then it will be deemed more than $750 but less than $2,500.
- Theft is a first-degree felony when:
- The property stolen is at $300,000 or more
- Theft is a second-degree felony when:
- The offender stole less than $30,000 from an automated teller machine or ATM
- The value of the property stolen is at $150,00 or more, but less than $30,000
- Theft is a third-degree felony when:
- The value of the property stolen is $30,000 or more, but less than $150,000;
- The property stolen is a quantity of controlled substances from a commercial building or vehicle in which prescription drugs are stored. The controlled substances stolen must be valued at less than $150,000
- The property taken in a single transaction is 10 or more heads of sheep, swine or goats with a value of less than $150,000
- The property taken in a single transaction is horses, cattle or exotic fowl or livestock valued at less than $150,000
- Theft is a state jail felony when:
- The stolen property is valued at $2,500 or more, but less than $30,000
- The property taken is less than $2,500 and you have two theft previous convictions on your record
- The stolen property is aluminum, copper wire, or bronze valued at less than $20,000
- The property stolen is water gate stems, rods or tubing valued at less than $20,000
- The property stolen was a firearm
- The stolen property is less than 10 heads of sheep, swine or goats or a combination of the three under the value of $30,000
- The property taken is an official carrier envelope for an election or an official ballot for an election
- The property was taken from a human corpse or grave. This includes property found at a military grave marker
- Theft is a class B misdemeanor when:
- The stolen property is valued at $100 or more, but less than $750
- The value of the property was less than $100 and you have a prior theft conviction from the past
- The property stolen is a driver’s license, a personal identification certificate, or a commercial driver’s license
- Theft is a class C misdemeanor when:
- The stolen property is valued at less than $100
Aggravated Theft Penalties in Texas
If certain factors were present during the offense, then your theft crime can be enhanced to aggravated theft. These aggravating factors can reclassify your offense up by one degree if they are found during the commission of the crime. For example, if you were charged with a class B misdemeanor but an aggravating factor was present, then the judge may elevate your charges to a class A misdemeanor as a result.
Texas Penal Code § 31.03(f) lists the following as aggravating factors:
- The victim was a nonprofit organization;
- The victim was an elderly person;
- You were a Medicare provider in a contractual relationship with the government and stole property because of that contractual relationship;
- You are a public servant and property was stolen through your status;
- You were a part of a contractual relationship with the government and stole property because of the benefits from that contractual relationship;
- You used a shield or deactivation instrument during the crime; or
- You deactivated or prevented a fire exit alarm or retail theft detector to steal property
Civil Penalties for Theft Crimes in Texas
According to the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 134.005 (the Texas Theft Liability Act), anyone who has been a victim of a theft offense can recover actual damages, additional damages up to $1,000, court costs and attorney’s fees from the individual who allegedly committed the theft.
Large department stores, merchants and retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Target, will often send the alleged shoplifter a demand for payment or threaten to threaten to sue for the amount of the items stolen. Although large stores will not usually follow through with their threats, it is very important to hire an experienced theft attorney to advise you on your best course of action. A civil suit from a major corporation can really drain your wallet and become a huge stressor in your life even after the criminal trial.
Texas Resources for Theft Crimes
Texas Penal Code – This link is to Chapter 31 of the Texas Penal Code, which contains many of the state’s laws regarding theft offenses. This chapter defines all prohibited theft, shoplifting, carjacking and related crimes and the penalties for committing such offenses.
Kleptomaniacs and Shoplifters Anonymous – CASA is a national organization that allows individuals who are suffering from an addictive-compulsive behavior to meet with others who have dealt with the same type of behavior and help these individuals find effective ways to treat their addiction.
National Association for Shoplifting Prevention – NASP is a national non-profit organization that seeks to prevent shoplifting by researching and exploring new shoplifting prevention methods, working with government officials to find ways to stop shoplifting, and developing programs aimed at preventing shoplifting.
Williamson County – Hot Checks Division – This link is to the Hot Checks Division of Williamson County and includes information about the most wanted hot check offenders in the county and frequently asked questions about hot checks. Individuals who have outstanding hot checks can also pay them online on this site. The Williamson County Justice Center is located at:
Williamson County Justice Center
Georgetown, Texas 78626
Phone: (512) 943-1111
Theft Offense Attorney in Williamson County, TX
Theft or larceny is a serious crime that can lead to life altering penalties. It’s important you have legal counsel you can trust to fight off these allegations. For an experienced and skilled lawyer we suggest you contact Law Office of Michael J. Price today for a consultation about your alleged theft crime. Michael J. Price is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Georgetown who will make every effort to help you avoid serious penalties of your charges.
Call Michael J. Price at (512) 354-1880 for a consultation about your theft charges. He will discuss your charges in further detail and chart out a defense plan for your case. Price & Twine, PLLC accepts clients throughout the greater Williamson County and Bell County area in Texas.
This article was last updated on November 21, 2019.