Theft is an extremely common crime in Dallas and, for that matter, every major city in Texas. For some, theft is a crime of opportunity. For others, it’s a premeditated act. Many people get charged with theft due to a mistake or misunderstanding. Regardless of the circumstances, theft charges can have a long-lasting impact on your future. Most people do not realize that theft is considered a “crime of moral turpitude,” which means it can become an obstacle to employment, housing, and educational opportunities.
Theft is the unlawful taking of property without the consent of the owner. It can range from a Class C misdemeanor all the way to a first degree felony offense.
Theft can range from stealing a pack of gum to taking trade secrets. Regardless of the accusations, the goal of every Dallas County theft lawyer at Varghese Summersett is to keep our clients out of jail and avoid a conviction. Benson Varghese, a Dallas theft lawyer who is Board Certified in Criminal Law, explains why avoiding a theft conviction is so important in this short video. After you finish watching, please read on to learn more about theft charges in Texas, including potential punishments and possible defenses.
Under Texas Penal Code 31.03, a person commits theft if he or she “unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of the property.” In layman’s terms, theft is taking something that doesn’t belong to you, without the owner’s permission or without legal justification, with no intention of giving it back.
While this sounds simple or straightforward, the theft statute is actually very convoluted and lengthy. That’s because there are more than a dozen sections in the penal code that outline ways in which you can be charged with theft in Texas.
There are numerous types of theft crimes, which can be found Chapter 31 of the Texas Penal Code. Some of the most common ones we see in Dallas include:
If you or a loved one is facing any kind of theft allegation, it’s vital to speak with a skilled Dallas theft lawyer at our firm to find out exactly what you are charged with and the potential ramifications.
Possessing, receiving, or concealing stolen property can be charged the same as theft. If you knew the property was stolen or should have known it was stolen, you could be looking at the same consequences as the person who actually took the property.
The exact charge and punishment range for theft depends on the loss or attempted loss of the item or service that was taken. The higher the amount, the higher the charge. The offense level is set out in the Texas Theft Value Ladder:
If you have a prior conviction for any level of threat, your charge can be elevated up one level. If you have two or more prior theft convictions, your charge could potentially be elevated two levels.
It’s also important to point out that the charges can be elevated if the victim was elderly, a non-profit organization, a public servant, or a government contractor.
Theft is considered a crime of moral turpitude in Texas. A crime of moral turpitude is one that involves dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or deliberate violence. A conviction for a crime of moral turpitude suggests that you are untrustworthy. Convictions for a crime of moral turpitude can negatively impact your ability to get a job, housing or into specific schools or program. It could also impact you ability to remain in the U.S. or become a citizen. That’s why it is so important to resolve a Dallas theft charge in a manner that won’t result in a conviction.
There are a number of defenses that an experienced Dallas theft lawyer can potentially raise, including but not limited to:
Consent: The defendant had consent to take the item.
Lack of intent: The defendant never intended to steal the item.
Mistake of fact: The item was thought to have been stolen but really wasn’t.
Duress: Stealing something under threat of harm to yourself or your family.
Value: Contesting the value of the item that was allegedly taken.
Abandoned: Unclear who owned the property; abandoned.
It’s important to speak with an experienced Dallas theft lawyer to find out if any of these defenses could apply to your case. Our team will thoroughly review the allegations and find the best strategy for you. Many people charged with theft are young and have no criminal record. In those cases, you may be eligible for a diversion program that will result in a dismissal upon successful completion.
If you or a loved one is facing any type of theft charge, it’s imperative to contact a skilled attorney immediately. We can help. Our team has handled every type of theft case, ranging from simple shoplifting to serious white collar crimes. We will formulate the best defense strategy to achieve the most favorable outcome possible. There’s a reason people turn to Varghese Summersett when they are facing the biggest problem in their lives. Experience and results matter. Call 214-903-4000 for a free consultation with a Dallas theft lawyer.