In these strange times, it’s more important than ever before to work together. This includes cooperating with police officers, who now have the added risk of coronavirus when working with the public.
The coronavirus threat has become such an issue that, in an attempt to keep officers safe, Ft. Worth Police are issuing tickets for low-level crimes.
From now on, all Class C misdemeanors, such as the crime of petty theft, will require approval from commanding officers to issue an arrest.
What are Class C Misdemeanors in Texas?
In the state of Texas, there are two types of criminal classifications: misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies are the highest level of crime and have the most severe punishments.
Misdemeanors, on the other hand, are much less severe in nature. In fact, Class C misdemeanors are the lowest form of crime in the state of Texas. Some examples are:
- Disorderly Conduct
- Public Intoxication
- Minor in Possession of Alcohol
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
- Traffic Tickets
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many other crimes classified this way, including petty theft.
How Are Theft Crimes Classified in Texas?
Theft, or larceny as it is sometimes called, is defined as the taking of another person’s property with the intent to deprive them of said property. The severity of the crime is based on the value of the property stolen.
Felony Theft Crime Classifications
At the highest level is felony theft which breaks down as:
- First-degree felony – property over $200,000
- Second-degree felony – $100,000 to $199,999
- Third-degree felony – $20,000 to $99,999
- State jail felony – $1,500 to $19,999
Breakdown of Misdemeanor Theft Crimes
For misdemeanor theft the break down is as follows:
- Class A misdemeanor – $500 to $1,499
- Class B misdemeanor – $50 to $499
- Class C misdemeanor – $50 or less
What are the Penalties for Texas’ Class C Misdemeanor Convictions?
The punishment for theft is dependent upon the amount in question and the level of the crime you are charged with. At the highest level, first-degree felonies, the punishment can range between 5 and 99 years in prison and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000.
The punishments for misdemeanor-level theft are:
- Class A misdemeanor – up to one year in county jail and/or a fine not to exceed $4,000 or up to three years of probation
- Class B misdemeanor – up to 180 days in county jail and/or a fine not to exceed $2,000 or two years of probation
- Class C misdemeanor – no jail time and a fine not to exceed $500
What Does All of This Mean for Offenders in Fort Worth?
The City of Ft. Worth police department is following the lead of departments in other major cities around the country in an attempt to protect our local officers. Because petty theft is considered a low-level crime, for now, it is one of the many that are currently being put on the low priority list for police.
By having officers issue tickets for low-level crimes, the City of Ft. Worth is limiting the exposure of officers who otherwise might come in close contact with persons infected with COVID-19.
What The Current Situation Doesn’t Mean
This doesn’t mean you won’t wind up facing consequences for breaking the law. As always — and no more important than ever — please cooperate with local police.
If you are charged with a crime that would otherwise involve going to jail, accept the ticket. When a citation doesn’t seem fair, understand that you will be able to address your grievances at a later date.
Failure to cooperate with officers is likely to land you added charges, some of which could wind up warranting a trip to central booking.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.