Texas is known for two things: its strong sense of justice and an even stronger sense of independence. Every man’s home is his castle in Texas. This means that personal property is protected heavily, both legally and personally.
Both of the personal property crimes of theft and robbery are prosecuted regularly — and heavily — in Texas. However, they are not equal in the eyes of the law.
Theft and robbery are considered different crimes in this state, and a robbery is considered much worse. So, what is the difference?
The Difference Between Texas Robbery and Theft
The difference between robbery and theft is both one of degree and specific actions. In general, theft is a smaller, lesser crime, while robbery is considered significantly worse and carries heavy penalties.
Theft is a Lesser Crime Than Robbery
You can be charged with theft if it is believed that you met three conditions. You must have taken someone’s property or money without permission. You must have removed that property from its appropriate location. You must also intend to keep it forever.
Simply moving someone else’s property is not grounds for a charge of theft. You must also intend to keep it, but this is assumed if you’re found to have held on to the property for more than a few days.
Robbery Carries Heavier Penalties
Robbery is an aggravated form of a theft crime. To be charged with a robbery, all elements of theft must still be present. There are several other factors that must exist as well.
If you have committed a robbery, it means you have taken someone’s property directly from them, against their will, and you did so through intimidation, force, threats, or violence. This is dealt with much more harshly under Texas law.
Contesting Technical Differences
The difference between a charge of theft and a charge of robbery can be as simple as when violence or threatening actions occurred.
If the theft happened first, and then afterward the thief threatened the victim about something unrelated, then the crime may not be robbery. This is a fine line, however, and should be contested with good legal representation.
The Consequences of Theft in Texas
Theft in Texas can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. The level at which you are charged depends on the amount stolen. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Theft is a class C misdemeanor if the amount stolen is less than $50, which results in fines up to $500.
- It’s a class B misdemeanor for amounts between $50 to $500, a driver’s license or ID card, and results in $2,000 in fines or six months in prison.
- A class A theft charge is the result of stealing $500 to $1,500 and can result in $4,000 in fines or a year in prison.
- Over $1,500, and the charge becomes a felony. You can also receive a felony theft charge for stealing livestock or firearms.
Consequences of Robbery in Texas
Robbery under Texas law is always a felony. Robbery can be further aggravated if you carry a weapon during the process. A charge of aggravated robbery carries a minimum of 5 years in prison.
Someone convicted of armed robbery is also not eligible for probation. A history of other convictions, the injuries sustained by victims during the robbery, and the amount stolen all affect the severity of the charges. You also cannot use references to mitigate your charges in an aggravated robbery case.
The same amount stolen by theft vs. robbery can have significantly different penalties. If you steal less than $500, for theft you face a maximum of six months in prison. Threatening someone during the process elevates the crime to robbery, and you suddenly face at least four and a half more years in prison, for instance. Keeping yourself from being convicted on charges of robbery can save you from years in prison.
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.