Like the majority of states, Texas classifies its theft offenses according to the value of the stolen property or services – and in some instances, by the type of property that is taken.
A person commits theft under Texas law if the person “unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property.” In plain English, this means you commit theft in the state of Texas when you take something that doesn’t belong to you, without consent or any other legal justification for doing so, and at the time of the offense you have no intention of giving the property back to its rightful owner.
Types of Misdemeanor Theft
Class C Misdemeanor Theft
Theft is a Class C Misdemeanor if the value of the property or services stolen is less than $50. The punishment for a Class C Misdemeanor in Texas is a fine of no more than $500, and does not involve any jail time.
Class B Misdemeanor Theft
Theft is a Class B Misdemeanor if the value of the property or services stolen is $50 or more but less than $500, or if the property stolen is a driver’s license or other identification card. The punishment for a Class B Misdemeanor is a sentence of confinement in jail for a term of not more than 180 days, a fine of not more than $2,000, or both.
Class A Misdemeanor Theft
Theft is a Class A Misdemeanor if the value of the property or services stolen is $500 or more but less than $1,500. The punishment for a Class A Misdemeanor is a sentence of confinement in jail for a term of no more than one year, a fine of not more than $4,000, or both.
Civil Penalties for Theft
In addition to criminal penalties, a person who commits theft may also be civilly liable to the theft victim under the Texas Theft Liability Act. The theft victim may recover a monetary award that includes actual damages caused by the theft and a civil penalty of no more than $1,000.
The parent or legal guardian of a minor who commits theft also may be civilly liable under the Texas Theft Liability Act, but monetary recovery is limited to the actual damages caused by the theft, with a cap of $5,000, and no civil penalty is available.
Effect of Prior Convictions on Current Theft Charge in Texas
If you were previously convicted of any level of theft, a later theft charge will increase in severity due to your existing criminal record. If you have multiple prior theft convictions, this could turn a small misdemeanor charge into a state felony.
Houston Theft Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with a theft crime, it’s important you seek legal counsel from an attorney with experience handling cases like yours. Rubin Law Firm, PLLC has successfully represented defendants of all ages and stations in life in criminal courts. Don’t wait — contact us for a free consultation at (713) 354-4915.