Being charged with a crime of any sort is a challenge, but when the crime in question is a form of theft, the consequences can be severe. While not typically considered “violent” in and of itself, theft is thought to be a sign of moral failing, which means you may find yourself judged at every turn from that point on. Having a charge like that on your record can ruin your reputation, and affect your ability to seek employment or assistance for housing or student loans. Depending on the exact nature of the charges, you may be denied your right to carry a firearm or to vote.
If you are staring down a theft charge, you need legal representation and education on your side. Understanding the differences between the types of theft under Texas law and the potential penalties can help you prepare for what is to come. A Killeen criminal defense attorney can help you every step of the way.
What is theft, exactly?
Theft charges hinge on intent. Theft is the taking, receiving, or storing of property that is not yours, with the plan to permanently deprive the owner or his or her right to that property. A person who forgets to scan an item at the grocery store checkout is likely not to be charged with theft. A person who knowingly allows a friend to store hundreds of boxes of stolen property in his or her garage, on the other hand, will likely be charged with receiving stolen property, which is a type of theft.
Are burglary and robbery theft crimes?
There are many different kinds of crimes that fall under the umbrella category of “theft,” but the ones most often misunderstood and mixed up are burglaries and robberies. Popular media doesn’t help – too many shows use the terms interchangeably, but they are very different crimes.
Both can be felony charges, but there are some main elements that separate the two terms. First, let’s work to understand what a burglary is:
- Illegally entering a building or home
- Intending to commit a felony or theft
- Staying confined in a building or home without permission with intent to commit a crime
It is a fairly broad conviction. No actual theft — or even confrontation — has to take place for someone to be charged with burglary. It is all about intent and circumstance, such as where you are found and what you are found with. For example, breaking into someone’s home with just the intent to take something is all that is needed to be charged with burglary. If you were invited into their home and then stayed secretly in it after “leaving,” with intent to commit any sort of felony, you could also be charged with burglary.
Robbery, however, is different. To be convicted of a robbery, there needs to be a theft or intended theft with the use of force or intimidation. For example, just telling someone to give you their money may not warrant a robbery charge, but telling them to give you their money or else you will hurt them does. So does using a weapon of any kind. If you broke into someone’s home with the intent to take something directly from them, and you brought a weapon of some sort, you would likely be charged with robbery (or attempted robbery) instead of burglary.
In the state of Texas, any level of felony conviction involves prison time. Burglaries are typically lower-level felonies with lesser fines and shorter time behind bars, while robberies are usually higher-level and can lead to life in prison if convicted. Of course, like with any crime, this depends on the specifics of your case. The amount of property taken and its overall value are both deciding factors in the severity of your penalties, regardless of the charge. Your attorney can work to lower your penalties if complete dismissal is not an option and they can make sure you are informed every step of the way.
Do I need a Killeen theft defense lawyer?
One of the many things that makes this nation great is everyone’s right to a fair trial. Regardless of what you are accused of, you are guaranteed a right to representation. If you are charged with a crime – felony or misdemeanor – you should contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as you can. We are trained to examine your case from every possible angle and explore the best options for your defense. Depending on the details of your case, this may include any of the following:
- Arguing lack of intent
- Disputing the value of items taken
- Working to suppress any illegally obtained evidence
- Showing consent or understanding of delayed payment
- Any applicable statutory defenses
- Asserting a proper claim of authorization or ownership
At the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm, our compassionate Killeen and Copperas Cove felony defense attorneys know how to fight for you and keep you in the loop every step of the way. We understand just how much is on the line, and we promise the same dedication to our clients that we’d give to our own family. Don’t let fear of judgement stop you from getting the help you deserve. To learn more about how we can fight for your freedom, call us today at 254-680-4655 or via our contact form.
I’ve dedicated my legal career to defending my clients. I demand all the evidence. I investigate all the facts, the so-called witnesses and even the police officers. I make it my business to know the law. Cases can be won or lost before you even set foot inside the courtroom.
Read more about Mary Beth Harrell