Theft Charges in Fort Bend County, Texas

Theft, burglary and robbery are serious crimes in the state of Texas. Depending on the value of the items stolen and the circumstances surrounding the crime, you may potentially face significant penalties. If you’ve been arrested and charged with theft or a related crime in the Fort Bend County area, you need to understand what the consequences may be.

How is Theft Defined in Texas?

Theft is covered under Section 31 of the Texas Penal Code. According to Section 31.03, theft is defined as:

(a) the unlawful appropriation of property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property

Simply put, theft refers to the taking of someone else’s property or belongings for your own use without their knowledge. You can be charged with theft in conjunction with other crimes.

How Does Theft Differ from Other Property Crimes?

Texas law distinguishes between different degrees of crimes involving theft of property. Two of the major distinctions involve robbery and burglary.

I. Robbery

Robbery is covered under Section 29.02 of the Penal Code. A person commits robbery if:

  1. In the course of committing theft as defined in Chapter 31 and with intent to obtain or maintain control of the property, he:
    1. Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or
    2. Intentionally or knowingly threatens or places another in fear of imminent bodily injury or death.

A person commits aggravated robbery if during the commission of the crime, he causes serious bodily harm to his victim, uses or displays a weapon or threatens or causes harm to a person who is disabled or over age 65.

II. Burglary

Burglary is covered under Section 30.02 of the Texas Penal Code. According to state law, burglary occurs if:

  1. Without the effective consent of the owner, the person:
    1. Enters a habitation, or a building (or any portion
      of a building) not then open to the public, with intent to commit a
      felony, theft, or an assault; or
    2. Remains concealed, with intent to commit a felony,
      theft, or an assault, in a building or habitation; or
    3. Enters a building or habitation and commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft, or an assault.

“Entering” involves the use of any part of your body or another physical object to gain access to a building, home or other structure.

Theft can refer to the physical appropriation of property or other assets or the use of fraudulent means to obtain property, such as check or credit card fraud, forgery, extortion, identity theft or embezzlement.

What Are the Penalties for Theft in Texas?

The penalties you may face for a theft conviction in Texas depend on the fair market value of the property that was stolen. Theft charges are categorized as either felonies or misdemeanors.

I. Misdemeanor Penalties

Misdemeanors are generally considered less serious crimes and carry less severe penalties. There are three primary classes of misdemeanor theft crimes.

  • Class A – Theft is considered a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the item in question is more than $500 but less than $1,500. A Class A misdemeanor conviction carries a penalty of up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
  • Class B – A Class B misdemeanor involves stolen property ranging from $50 to $500 in value. You can also be charged with a Class B misdemeanor for passing fraudulent checks in any amount ranging from $20 to $500. You can be fined up to $2,000 and receive jail time of up to 180 days for a Class B misdemeanor.
  • Class C – Class C misdemeanors carry the lowest penalty of only a $500 fine. Class C misdemeanors are limited to crimes involving property valued at less than $50 or less than $20 for a fraudulent check.

II. Felony Penalties

Felonies are considered to be more serious and as such, carry stiffer penalties. Felonies are also categorized based on the value of the property in question.

  • State Jail Felony  – A state jail felony involves theft of property ranging in value from $1,500 to $20,000. If convicted, you could receive up to two years confinement in a state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Third-Degree Felony – A third-degree felony theft charge generally involves items valued at over $20,000 but less than $100,000. A third-degree felony in Texas carries a prison term of up to ten years along with a $10,000 fine.
  • Second-Degree Felony – Second-degree felony charges are reserved for theft crimes involving property valued at more than $100,000 but less than $200,000. A second-degree felony conviction in Texas can land you in state prison for up to 20 years. If convicted, you also fine a fine of up to $10,000.
  • First-Degree Felony – The most serious felony charge, a first-degree felony theft involves property valued at more than $200,000. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could face imprisonment in a state facility for up to 99 years along with a $10,000 fine.

If you have one or more previous theft convictions, the penalties may be enhanced for subsequent theft arrests.

It’s also important to note that the state of Texas categorizes the theft of firearms or precious metals such as a copper and aluminum as felonies, regardless of the item’s actual value.

What Should I Do if I’m Arrested for Theft?

If you find yourself facing a theft charge, the first thing you should do is contact a qualified Fort Bend County criminal defense attorney. The law office of Lee D. Cox specializes in aiding clients who are facing misdemeanor and felony theft convictions to defend their rights.

Lee understands how damaging a criminal conviction can be to your life. Your criminal record can haunt you long after your case is resolved, making it difficult to seek employment, provide for your family or make a positive contribution to society.

Navigating the complexities of the Texas legal system can be a frightening prospect but you don’t have to do it alone. Contact Lee D. Cox today to get the expert legal representation you need to defend yourself against theft charges. Call 281-762-7345 to schedule an appointment for your initial case evaluation with an experienced Fort Bend County Theft attorney.

20+ Years of Experience in Criminal Defense

I began my career with the District Attorney's office and have been in private practice focusing on criminal defense in Fort Bend and surrounding counties since 2002.

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