Statute of limitations laws set a time limit for prosecution of the offense in question. Under these laws, charges must be filed within the time specified. If charges aren’t filed within this time frame, they cannot be filed at all.
All Texas theft crimes are subject to a statute of limitations, each of which depends on the circumstances of the offense in question.
Below, we’re going to take a look at the statutes of limitations for different types of Texas theft crimes, and the circumstances under which the statute of limitations can be extended.
In most theft crime cases, charges are pressed long before the statute of limitations has expired. Therefore, we’re also going to take a look at Texas theft crimes laws, and the sentencing and penalties you can expect if convicted.
Texas Theft Crime Statute of Limitations
- Simple theft: 5 years
- Theft by fiduciary: 10 years
- Theft by a public servant: 10 years
The clock for these statutes of limitations begins ticking to moment an offense is committed. However, the period of limitation may be suspended under the following circumstances:
- Any time that the suspect was not in the state
- The time during the pendency of an indictment
For example, if you commit a string of robberies and leave the state shortly thereafter for six years, the clock stops the day you leave and starts again when you return. This means years later, you could still face charges
Texas Theft Laws
Under Texas law, theft occurs when the defendant takes the property of another with the intent to deprive the owner of the property. Knowingly receiving stolen property is also considered to be theft.
Failing to perform an affirmative act that would prove the item being sold or given to the defendant is stolen can also be considered theft in this state.
For example, purchasing a car without a certificate of title and failing to report this to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles could be considered theft.
Texas Theft Crime Sentencing and Penalties
Texas theft crimes are penalized by the value of the property allegedly taken. You can expect the following sentencing and penalties for Texas theft crimes.
Charges and Penalties By Property Value
- $50 or less: Class C misdemeanor; fines up to $500
- $50-$500: Class B misdemeanor; up to 180 days in jail and/or fines up to $2,000
- $500-$1,500: Class A misdemeanor; up to one year in jail and/or fines up to $4,000
- $1,500-$20,000: State jail felony; 180 days – 2 years in state jail, fines up to $10,000
- $20,000-$100,000: Third-degree felony; 2-10 years in prison; fines up to $10,000
- $100,000-$200,000: Second degree felony; 2-20 years in prison, fines up to $10,000
- $200,000+: First degree felony; 5-99 years or life, fine up to $10,000
Elevated Charges and Enhanced Sentencing
Under certain circumstances, the defendant’s charges and penalties may be bumped up to the next higher level. Let’s say the defendant was a public servant or in contract with the government and committed theft while acting in this capacity.
This is one scenario of dozens subject to enhanced sentencing. Prior theft convictions may also factor in.
Or, if the allegedly stolen property was a motor vehicle, this is usually charged as Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, which is a state jail felony. However, when the vehicle values over $30,000, this could be charged under the general theft statute, making the offense a third-degree felony.
Ultimately, if there’s any reason to believe you’ve participated in criminal theft activity that still falls within that crime’s statute of limitations, seek professional legal advice. An aggressive criminal defense can mean the difference between walking free and spending time (and money) paying for theft crime charges.
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.