How to Get Theft Charges Dropped in Texas
Whether minor or severe, theft charges can carry significant repercussions that extend far beyond legal penalties. In Texas, as in many jurisdictions, the consequences of a theft conviction can influence one’s employment, housing, and even personal relationships.
But what if you’re falsely accused, or there are circumstances that could lead to the charges being dropped or reduced? In Texas, the best strategy when dealing with a theft charge is to work with a criminal defense attorney to avoid wrongful conviction and provide a strong case for your innocence.
This article delves deep into the Texas legal system, offering insights into understanding the different categories of theft charges and shedding light on how to have those charges dismissed.
Whether you’re navigating this challenging path or assisting someone you know, this article provides a comprehensive summary of everything to know about dropping theft charges in Texas.
Understanding Theft Charges in Texas
Theft, as defined in Texas, refers to unlawfully acquiring someone else’s property while intending to keep that property and the theft from the owner. In other words, theft charges involve stealing from others without their knowledge.
Texas law distinguishes between theft, robbery, and burglary. Robbery is defined as theft while knowingly or intentionally causing or threatening to cause harm.
Burglary involves theft while hiding and breaking into someone else’s property and can include assault. In all these situations, theft is considered in conjunction with other felonies with more significant penalties for combined offenses.
Categories of Theft Charges and Their Penalties
Theft charges can vary widely in severity, mainly depending on the property’s value. Misdemeanors are typically assigned for values less than $1,500, while felonies are charged for amounts greater than $1,500.
In Texas, theft is primarily categorized based on the value of the stolen property:
|Felony||Stolen Property Value||Penalty|
|Class C Misdemeanor||Less than $50||
|Class B Misdemeanor||$50 to $500||
|Class A Misdemeanor||$500 to $1,500||
|State Jail Felony||$1,500 to $20,000||
|Third-Degree Felony||$20,000 to $100,000||
|Second-Degree Felony||$100,000 to $200,000||
|First-Degree Felony||$200,000 or more||
Depending on the classification, penalties can range from fines to jail or prison time:
- Misdemeanors: Penalties can range from fines (often not exceeding $500 for Class C misdemeanors) to jail time of up to one year for Class A misdemeanors.
- Felonies: Penalties can range from 180 days to 2 years in state jail for state jail felonies to life imprisonment or a term of 5 to 99 years in prison for first-degree felonies. Fines can also reach up to $10,00.
Other Considerations Affecting Charges:
Apart from the value, other factors can influence the classification of theft charges:
- Type of Property: Stealing specific items, like firearms, controlled substances, or livestock, can result in higher charges, irrespective of market value.
- Previous Convictions: Individuals with prior theft convictions may face enhanced penalties.
- Theft from a Person: If theft is directly from an individual (e.g., pickpocketing), it may carry a higher charge despite the property’s value.
What are the Grounds for Dropping Theft Penalties in Texas?
In many cases, courts will drop or reduce theft charges based on various grounds. While the specifics of each case can differ, certain factors can influence the outcome of theft charges in Texas. These include:
Lack of Evidence
To secure a conviction, the state must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Here are the implications of insufficient evidence:
- Tangible Evidence: Physical evidence linking the accused to the theft is often necessary. Without this, it becomes challenging to secure a conviction.
- Eyewitness Testimony: If there are no witnesses, or if their accounts are unreliable, this can weaken the prosecution’s case.
- Inconclusive Surveillance: Grainy or unclear footage may not be substantial enough to identify the accused indisputably.
Facing a wrongful accusation based on mistaken identity can be unfortunate, but it’s not uncommon. Here’s how it can play out:
- Similar Appearance: Someone who looks similar to the defendant might have committed the theft, leading to misidentification.
- Unreliable Eyewitness Accounts: Eyewitnesses can sometimes be mistaken, especially in stressful situations or when some time has passed since the event.
- Misinterpreted Evidence: Sometimes, evidence like fingerprints or video footage can be misconstrued, leading to incorrect conclusions.
The U.S. Constitution and Texas laws provide certain rights to individuals. Violating these rights can lead to charges being dropped:
- Illegal Searches and Seizures: Evidence obtained without a valid search warrant or a legally recognized exception to the warrant requirement can be suppressed..
- Miranda Rights: If the accused wasn’t read their rights upon arrest or during custodial interrogation, any statements they made might be inadmissible in court.
- Right to a Speedy Trial: Prolonged delays that prejudice the defendant can be grounds for dismissal if the defendant didn’t cause the delay.
Return of Property
In some cases, the voluntary return of stolen property can influence the legal proceedings, though it’s not a guaranteed method for charges to be dropped:
- Good Faith: Voluntarily returning stolen items might demonstrate the accused’s remorse and good faith, potentially leading to a more lenient stance from the prosecution.
- Restitution: Along with other factors, repayment can sometimes lead to reduced charges or alternative sentencing.
It’s important to emphasize that these are general guidelines, and the actual outcome can vary based on the details of each case, the strategies employed by the defense, and the perspectives of the judge and prosecution.
Consulting with an attorney is essential for anyone facing theft charges in Texas.
How to Increase Your Chances of Dropping Theft Charges
Facing theft charges can be a daunting experience, but there are proactive steps you can take to increase your chances of dropping or reducing those charges. Here’s a closer look at a few strategies that can be beneficial in the legal battleground of Texas:
Acting quickly to gather and preserve any evidence that could support your defense is crucial. Here’s how you can go about it:
- Surveillance Footage: If security cameras are nearby, request copies of the footage from the time of the alleged theft. This might show that you weren’t at the scene or didn’t commit the act.
- Receipts and Alibis: Save receipts or other documents that can prove where you were at the time in question. Similarly, identify any witnesses who can vouch for your whereabouts or actions.
- Store Evidence Safely: Ensure you store evidence in a safe, secure place and make backups where possible, especially for digital content.
The right to remain silent is one of the most fundamental rights. Here’s how to exercise it properly:
- Stay Silent: Upon arrest or during police interactions, it’s within your rights to stay silent. Avoid explaining yourself without legal counsel, as courts could be use it against you.
- No Unofficial Conversations: Avoid discussing details of the case with anyone other than your lawyer. This includes friends, family, and especially on social media.
- Await Your Attorney: If you’re taken into custody, ask for your attorney immediately and wait for their guidance before answering any questions.
Hire a Skilled Texas Attorney
Legal expertise can make a world of difference in how you represent your case and its eventual outcome. Here’s why:
- Specialized Knowledge: An attorney with experience in Texas theft cases will know local statutes, previous case laws, and potential defenses.
- Negotiation Skills: Often, the resolution of a case doesn’t require a trial. A skilled attorney can negotiate with the prosecution for reduced charges, alternative sentencing, or even dismissal.
- Guidance and Strategy: From collecting evidence to presenting arguments in court, an attorney can guide you through every step, ensuring that you take actions that are in your best interest.
Drop Your Theft Charges Today With DWI Attorney Fort Bend
In the intricate maze of the Texas legal system, having a suitable representation can make all the difference between a conviction and a dismissal. If you or someone you know is facing theft charges in Texas, it’s crucial to act swiftly.
With the experienced team at DWI Attorney Fort Bend, you’ll have dedicated professionals who understand Texas law’s complexities and will tirelessly advocate for your rights.
Don’t let accusations define your future. Reach out to DWI Attorney Fort Bend today and take the first step towards reclaiming your peace of mind and securing your freedom.
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.