Theft Charges Defense in San Antonio and Bexar County
The basics of theft charges in Texas
In Texas, you can be charged with theft, also known as larceny, which is the taking of property of another person with the intent to deprive the owner of that property. You do not have to directly take the property of another person to be charged with theft either. If you take possession of property that you already know to be stolen by somebody else, you can also be charged with theft.
Theft charges can be filed for any amount, from taking a stick of gum all the way up to stealing valuables that can be worth millions of dollars.
The following guidelines are generally set for varying degrees of theft based on the amount or value of property taken:
- “Class C” misdemeanor: $50 or less
- “Class B” misdemeanor: $50 or more, but less than $500
- “Class A” misdemeanor: $500 or more, but less than $1,500
- State jail felony: $1,500 or more, but less than $20,000
- Third-degree felony: $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000
- Second-degree felony: $100,000 or more, but less than $200,000
- First-degree felony: $200,000 or more
The higher the dollar amount involved in the theft charge, the more severe the penalty will be upon conviction. Those penalties can range anywhere from a fine of no more than $500 up to a prison sentence of 5 to 99 years and a fine of no more than $10,000 for a first-degree felony.
Possible theft charges defense strategies
While theft can result in some serious fines and jail time, there are several possible defenses an attorney such as Derek W. Emmons can employ to help find you innocent. Some of these include:
A lack of intent. From a legal perspective, it must be proven that you had the intent to steal something from another person without an intention of returning the property in question. If you forgot to return an item and you can mount reasonable doubt of what your intentions were, this could serve to help find you innocent. On the flip side, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had no intention to return the item(s) in question and that you had every intention of keeping it/them. Without verbal, written or physical evidence of intent to permanently deprive someone of an item you took, you may be able to use this as an effective defense strategy.
Duress. If someone is forcing you to take another person’s property. If there was a threat of physical harm or blackmail to you or a family member, you might be able to show duress.
Claim of ownership. In some instances, you may be able to establish that you are actually the owner of the property in question, or that you had a reason to believe that you were.
Age. Being a minor is not the strongest defense by itself, but it may lessen the penalties meted out if convicted.
Mistake of fact. A defense attorney may be able to show that the property that was thought to have been stolen was actually not stolen.
The Law Office of Derek W. Emmons serves clients in San Antonio and surrounding Texas communities.