Theft

Killeen Theft Crime Defense Attorneys

Strong defense against a variety of theft charges in Harker Heights, Waco, Copperas Cove, and throughout Central Texas

Theft, shoplifting, forgery, fraud, burglary or embezzlement – all of these types of criminal acts fall under similar parts of the Texas penal code. Whether it’s a situation as minor as a misunderstanding about borrowing a friend’s car or as major as an intricate embezzlement scheme, theft crime allegations can have a big effect on your reputation. You could be facing felony or misdemeanor charges and long-term repercussions.

Theft is labeled a “crime of moral turpitude,” meaning a conviction will brand you as a liar and thief for the rest of your life. A theft conviction can stop you from obtaining almost any type of professional licensing.

At the Law Office of Mary Beth Harrell, we understand that you may have been falsely accused or simply made a mistake. With combined decades of experience in handling theft cases, our Killeen criminal defense attorneys boast a successful record in defending clients charged with a variety of felony theft offenses. Look to us for tough, strong defense.

What are theft charges in TX?

Under the Texas penal code, theft is defined simply as the “unlawful appropriation of property with the intent to deprive the owner of that property.” This means taking something that doesn’t belong to you, without the owner’s consent, with no intent of returning it.

The umbrella of theft involves a wide variety of charges, including:

Burglary

Entering a building or any structure without permission with the intent to steal something or commit assault is a type of theft crime, even if you don’t ultimately take anything.

Credit Card Abuse

Unauthorized use of another person’s credit or debit card is a serious crime that can lead to identity theft and felony charges. Credit card abuse includes using fraudulent numbers, stealing or buying a card for personal gain or using someone else’s card without consent.

Embezzlement

Misappropriating or taking funds and using them for a purpose other than their original intent is embezzlement. This is a subset of theft because with embezzlement, typically the offender is authorized to have access to these funds.

Receiving stolen property

Think of this as general theft. When you take someone’s property, accept property you know is stolen or conceal property you know is stolen, you can be charged with theft.

Robbery

Robbery is another theft crime, but different from burglary because the money or property was taken from a person. Theft is considered robbery when the offender uses a weapon, or deliberately or recklessly causes injury or threat.

Shoplifting

One of the most common forms of theft, shoplifting can involve taking items without paying for them, as well as actions like changing price tags in order to pay a different price.

Theft of Service

If someone fails to pay for something like a home renovation project, or steals their neighbor’s internet service, they can also face theft charges.

Trade Secrets

Many companies and organizations have trade secrets protected by the law. Sharing that information publicly may be considered theft.

Writing Bad Checks

You can also be charged with theft for knowingly writing a check when you don’t have enough money in your account to cover the amount.

What’s the difference between theft, burglary and robbery in Texas?

Theft, robbery and burglary are all criminal offenses under the law. They all involve taking property that doesn’t belong to you, but there are a lot of differences between these crimes and the penalties of conviction.

  • Theft is the action of taking, receiving or storing property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property. This is typically a non-violent crime.
  • Burglary is when someone unlawfully enters or remains concealed in a building or structure with the intent to commit a theft or felony. You don’t need to commit a theft to be charged with burglary.
  • Robbery occurs if a person uses threats or injures a person while committing a theft.

The theft defense attorneys at the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm can discuss any of these types of charges as they might apply to your circumstances.

Is theft a felony or misdemeanor?

Like most states, Texas determines whether or not a theft crime is a felony or misdemeanor on the value of the stolen property or services. We believe that understanding the charges against you is the first step in a strong defense. Following is a breakdown of theft charges, along with penalties of conviction.

Misdemeanor theft

Misdemeanor theft is when an individual illegally acquires property valued at $1,500 or less.

  • Class C misdemeanor. Property valued less than $50 or less than $20 if it’s a check. Penalties can result in a fine up to $500.
  • Class B misdemeanor. Property valued between $50 and $500. Penalties include jail time of up to 180 days and fines up to $2,000.
  • Class A misdemeanor. Property valued between $500 and $1,500. Penalties can include jail time of up to one year and fines up to $4,000.

Felony theft

Theft charges can be bumped up to felony charges as the value of the property goes up, or if the property is of a specific type.

  • State jail felony. Property valued between $1,500 and $20,000. This can also include theft of property like guns, cattle and livestock. Penalties for conviction include prison time from 180 days to two years and fines up to $10,000.
  • Third-degree felony. Property valued between $20,000 and $100,000. Penalties include prison for two to 10 years and fines up to $10,000.
  • Second-degree felony. Property valued between $100,000 to $200,000. Penalties can range from two to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
  • First-degree felony. Property valued $200,000 or more. Penalties are severe, including from five to 99 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

You may find yourself facing additional penalties if you’re accused of stealing property or services from anyone in what’s called a “protected class” of people, which can include public servants, government workers or the elderly. You could also face civil charges from the victim of the crime under the Texas Theft Liability Act. Our attorneys can help launch a strong defense on your behalf.

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How our Killeen theft defense attorneys can help

When we take your case, our lawyers pursue every possible option for a positive outcome. We know that a criminal conviction can greatly affect your future – a criminal record on a background check can restrict your options for employment, professional licensing, housing and the right to own a firearm.

If you have no prior criminal history and are facing theft charges, you may be eligible for a pre-trial diversion program, which will keep your case out of court and ultimately dismissed with no mark on your record. We can explain your options regarding these programs and which may be right for you or your juvenile.

We also employ a variety of defenses against theft, including entrapment, issues of consent and belief of ownership. Many theft charges arise from simple misunderstandings or mistakes. We’ll investigate the circumstances of your situation, analyze all evidence available and use all our resources to benefit your case.

Killeen theft crime defense representation

Even the most minor theft conviction can leave you with a criminal record. The attorneys at the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm have years of experience defending people facing theft charges – protecting their rights and building a smart, strategic defense. Let us help. Contact us today at 254-680-4655 or by filling out our contact form. We have offices in Killeen,  Copperas Cove, and Waco, and handle in-custody visits for clients who cannot come to us.