Theft Crimes in San Antonio, TX
If you were accused of theft in San Antonio, TX, or the surrounding areas of Bexar County, then contact a criminal defense attorney at Goldstein, Goldstein & Hilley. Our attorneys are experienced in defending a wide variety of theft charges in both state and federal court. We have represented clients from misdemeanor shoplifting charges to more serious felony theft offenses including robbery and burglary.
In some cases, the alleged victim (or retail establishment in a shoplifting case) will make a claim under the Texas Theft Liability Act for actual damages and a civil penalty of up to $1,000. In some cases, a civil demand will be made of the parents of a juvenile accused of theft or shoplifting.
Any allegation of theft, including a misdemeanor, is serious because the allegation involves a crime of dishonesty that shows up in even the most routine background checks. Find out what we can do to fight the charges and protect you against this serious criminal accusation. Call today for a consultation to discuss the allegations against you with an experienced attorney
Elements of the Crime of Theft in Texas
The crime of theft requires proof that a person unlawfully appropriated property with the intent to deprive the owner of property. Tex.Penal Code Ann. § 31.03(a)(West Supp.2014). The term “appropriate” is defined to mean “to acquire or otherwise exercise control over property other than real property.” See Texas Penal Code § 31.01(4)(B).
The appropriation of the property is “unlawful” if it is without the owner’s effective consent. Id. at § 31.03(b)(1). Texas law defines the term “consent” to mean assent in fact, whether express or apparent. See § 1.07(11).
Types of Theft Charges in Texas
The Texas Penal Code describes several different grades of theft ranging from a Class C misdemeanor to a felony of the first degree.
- First degree felony theft is punishable by 5-99 years or life in prison and a $10,000 fine. The value of the property must be $200,000 or more.
- Second-degree felony theft is punishable by 2-20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The value of the property must be $100,000 or more, but less than $200,000.
- Third-degree felony theft is punishable by 2-10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The value of the property must be $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000.
- State jail felony theft is punishable by 180 days to 2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The value of the property must be $1,500 or more, but less than $20,000. These penalties can also apply to credit card or debit card abuse.
- Class A misdemeanor theft is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. The value of the property must be $500 or more, but less than $1,500. These penalties can also apply to the theft of cable service.
- Class B misdemeanor theft is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. The value of the property must be $20 or more, but less than $500.
- Class C misdemeanor theft is punishable by up to a $500 fine. The value of the property must be less than $20.
A prior conviction might cause the penalty or punishment to be more severe in the pending case. For instance, if the person has a prior conviction for any theft charge, another allegation of theft (even if the property is valued at less than $50) can be charged as a Class B misdemeanor instead of a Class C misdemeanor. If a person has two or more prior convictions for a theft offense, then a theft of an item valued at less than $1,500 can be charged as a state jail felony.
Determining the Restitution Amount in a Theft Case
In most cases, the Texas Penal Code defines the value of the item taken as the fair market value at the time and place of the offense. Tex.Penal Code Ann. § 31.08(a). In other words, “fair market value” means the amount the property would sell for in cash, given a reasonable time for selling it. Keeton v. State, 803 S.W.2d 304, 305 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991). If that amount cannot be ascertained, then the value might be determine by considering the cost of replacing the property within a reasonable time after the theft. Id.
Over the years, the courts have developed a number of different ways in which the prosecutor might attempt to prove the value of the item take. In some cases, the property owner is allowed to testify about an estimate of the fair market value of the property or the amount paid to replace the item. The value of the item taken is often a highly contested issue at trial.
Finding a Theft Defense Attorney in San Antonio, TX
If you have been accused of any form of theft, from shoplifting to robbery, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in San Antonio, TX, at the law firm of Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr. We can assist you with every part of the case from the criminal charges to any civil demand. From misdemeanor shoplifting to more serious felony charges, our attorneys have the experience necessary to fight your case.