Theft is a criminal charge that includes a range of offenses from shoplifting to bouncing checks to forgery. The punishments generally depend on the value of the stolen item.
The Texas Penal Code defines theft as taking someone else’s property without consent, either by deception or by physically stealing it. You don’t have to keep the property for it to be considered theft, but only long enough to deprive the owner of its value.
The Value of a Good Attorney
A conviction for any type of crime becomes part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A conviction for a theft crime – even a misdemeanor – can hurt you when you are looking for a job or applying to rent a house or apartment. A convicted felon loses the right to vote and carry firearms and can lose certain professional licenses.
An experienced attorney can determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of the charges against you, explore plea options or represent you at trial. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.
Penalties for Theft
|Less than $50, or less than $20 if by check||Class C Misdemeanor||Up to a $500 fine|
|$50 or more but less than $500, or $20 or more but less than $500 if by check||Class B Misdemeanor||Up to 6 months in prison and $4,000|
|$500 or more but less than $1,500||Class A Misdemeanor||Up to 1 year in prison and $4,000|
|$1,500 or more but less than $20,000||State Jail Felony||6 months - 2 years in prison and $10,000|
|$20,000 or more but less than $100,000||3rd Degree Felony||2 - 10 years in prison and $10,000|
|$100,000 or more but less than $200,000||2nd Degree Felony||2 - 20 years in prison and $10,000|
|$200,000 or more||1st Degree Felony||5 - 99 years in prison and $10,000|
In Texas, forgery is a crime in which a person forges a “writing” with intent to defraud or harm another person. If the defendant is being charged with having forged 2 or more writings, then there will be a presumption that he did intend to defraud another person. A writing ca be any of the following things:
- Any kind of printed or recorded information (including a signature)
- Money, coins, tokens, stamps, seals, credit cards, badges, and trademarks
- Symbols of value, right, privilege or identification
Example: Billy made a forged copy of a rare coin and wanted to sell it to Bob since he knew Bob enjoyed collecting rare coins. He told Bob that it was an authentic rare coin and he believed him and purchased the forged coin. Billy has committed forgery.
Theft by Deception
Theft by deception is a type of crime where an individual uses false pretenses to gain control of someone’s property, such as stealing another’s Social Security number or obtaining another’s money through credit card or check scams.
Anyone who uses a credit card that was forged, revoked, stolen, or canceled can be charged with theft. Someone can also be charged with theft for using a credit card or line of credit and having no intention of paying the bill.