Have you, a friend, or a loved one been arrested and charged with a theft crime in Fort Worth?
If you have been arrested and charged with Theft in Tarrant County, Texas, you need the assistance of an experienced and aggressive Fort Worth theft lawyer that has a proven track record of getting theft cases dismissed. In addition, you need to know what Texas theft law requires the State of Texas to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you of misdemeanor or felony theft charges.
Under Texas criminal, Theft is defined as that act of intentionally or knowingly taking or converting another person’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property and without the owner’s effective consent.
Theft crimes include the following: shoplifting, auto theft, identity theft, robbery, burglary, embezzlement, welfare fraud, insurance fraud, theft by check, forgery and receiving stolen property.
If you have been accused of stealing and are facing criminal charges, I strongly urge you to speak with an experienced theft lawyer.
Under Texas theft law, the punishment for a theft crime varies depending upon the value of the alleged stolen property. A conviction for theft in Texas could result in the following consequences:
- Theft of property or services of a value under $100 could result in a Class C Misdemeanor conviction, punishable by fine only up to $500.
- Theft of property or services of a value of $100 – $750 could result in a Class B Misdemeanor conviction, punishable by up to 180 days in Tarrant County jail and up to a $2,000 fine.
- Theft of property/services of a value of $750 – $2500 could result in a Class A Misdemeanor conviction, punishable by up to one year in the Tarrant County jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
- Theft of property/services of a value of $2500 – $30,000 could result in a State Jail Felony conviction, punishable by up to 2 years in a state jail facility and up to a $10,000 fine.
- Theft of property/services of a value of $30,000 – $150,000 could result in a Third-Degree Felony conviction, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
- Theft of property/services of a value of $150,000 – $300,000 could result in a Second-Degree Felony conviction, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
- Theft of property/services of a value of $300,000 or more could result in a First-Degree Felony conviction, punishable up to life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Whether charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, theft is a serious criminal charge that carries devastating long-term consequences. In addition to jail time and fines, a theft conviction may permanently limit your ability to obtain gainful employment.
Under Texas law, shoplifting and many other theft crimes are considered crimes of moral turpitude. A conviction for a crime against moral turpitude could result in limited employment opportunities, the deportation of an alien, and could result in your honesty and good name being held in question for the remainder of your life.
Misdemeanor Theft Charges in Tarrant County, Texas
Some people make the mistake of believing that a misdemeanor theft conviction is minor and will not affect them in the future. Don’t think this way! Any conviction for theft will limit your future. If you are looking for a job, how do you think a current or prospective employer will view you, compared to other candidates, if you have a theft conviction on your criminal record? Many employers view a theft conviction as serious as a felony conviction and will immediately exclude someone from eligibility if they have a theft on their criminal record.
If you are facing a misdemeanor theft charge in Tarrant County, Texas, hiring the best theft attorney for your case can make the difference between a conviction and a dismissal of your case. For example, experienced and aggressive Fort Worth theft lawyers are sometimes able to negotiate a conditional dismissal for first-time theft offenders. For example, if you complete a short theft intervention class and some hours of community service, you may be able to have your theft charge dismissed. Negotiating a dismissal of theft charges is critical to ensuring you are eligible to get the theft arrest and charge expunged from your criminal record.
If you are a first-time offender, your criminal attorney may be able to help you get into a Tarrant County Diversion Program. There are multiple diversion programs that you may qualify for that will allow you to get your theft case dismissed and eligible for an expunction. For example, the Deferred Prosecution Program (DPP) provides that a misdemeanor theft charge could be dismissed ask quickly as 4 months from the date of admission into the program.
Why consider a diversion program for a theft case? The biggest benefit to completing a diversion program is that you may be able to receive an expunction of the theft arrest and charge immediately! Normally, Texas criminal law requires you to wait the statute of limitations before you are eligible for an expunction. However, there is an exception for certain diversion programs that allow you to be eligible for immediate expunction upon completion of the program.
Felony Theft Charges in Tarrant County, Texas
If you are facing a felony theft charge in Fort Worth, Texas, it is critical that your Theft lawyer get access to the police reports and digital media evidence and act quickly to preserve your legal rights and protect your freedom. The best theft attorneys in Fort Worth know that the prosecutor has the burden to prove that you intentionally or knowingly took or converted another person’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property and without the owner’s effective consent. This burden always remain on the prosecution and they must prove the elements of theft beyond a reasonable doubt.
Below, we will address some of the common defenses to theft and how your Fort Worth theft attorney can work to get your felony theft case dismissed or reduced to a misdemeanor theft charge. However, facing a felony theft charge is unique. Unlike misdemeanor theft charges, every felony theft case must be presented to a grand jury for indictment. Many criminal defense attorneys fail to take advantage of the grand jury process and the benefits the grand jury process can provide to their clients. Under Texas criminal law, a grand jury is designed to filter out criminal cases that are not supported by adequate evidence. Unfortunately, if your theft lawyer does not proactively reach out to the prosecutor requesting an opportunity to present evidence to the grand jury, you will miss out on the opportunity and the grand jury will only hear one side of the facts and true bill your theft case.
The best theft attorneys in Tarrant County, Texas know that you need to act quickly to inform the prosecutor you wish to gather and provide evidence to the grand jury so that the truth is revealed. The grand jury has three options: keep the case as a felony theft, lower the felony charge to a lesser misdemeanor theft charge or No Bill the case. If one of the theft defenses listed below applies to your felony theft charge, you may be able to reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor or have the charge dismissed altogether by a no bill.
Theft Defenses Under Texas Law
One of the best ways to determine if you are working with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney is to ask them what possible defenses exist to help you get your theft case dismissed. As previously mentioned, the State of Texas must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally or knowingly took or converted another person’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property and without the owner’s effective consent. Failure to prove each and every element of the crime of theft beyond a reasonable doubt will require a verdict of not guilty by a jury.
One of the most common defenses to theft in Texas is the element of value. In order for a prosecutor to prove felony theft, the value of the item must be more than $2,500. The best theft attorneys in Fort Worth, Texas will analyze the receipts or estimates related to value to see if the prosecutor can prove the element of value beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not uncommon for a theft case to have an estimate that is based upon nothing more than the alleged victim’s word or a handwritten note/estimate. Your theft attorney must exploit this situation to create reasonable doubt regarding the element of value. For instance, it is possible that your criminal defense attorney could obtain a separate estimate from a reputable professional that could establish that the value of the item was less than $2,500, providing you the opportunity to have your felony theft case dropped to a misdemeanor theft charge.
No Intent To Permanently Deprive The Owner Of The Property
Did you borrow the property from the alleged victim? Was there a relationship where you and the alleged victim exchanged items all the time and borrowed each other things? If so, you may have a good faith argument that you had no intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
It is important that you go back and gather all previous correspondence (texts, emails, voicemails, etc.) between you and the alleged victim and provide this information to your criminal attorney so that this information can be used by your lawyer to show you had no intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
Owner’s Consent Was Given
Did the owner of the property (alleged victim) provide you consent at some point to obtain or convert the property but later change their mind? Under Texas theft law, if you had consent to obtain or convert the property, you are innocent of the crime of theft. Similar to the defense of lacking criminal intent, your criminal defense attorney needs to sit down with you and collect all evidence establishing the alleged victim provided you consent to take or convert the property
Being In Possession Of Property Does Not Mean You Committed Theft
Did you receive something of value from someone that you did not know was stolen? Being in possession of stolen property is not, by itself, sufficient to prove the crime of theft. A classic example of this situation is when someone takes property to a pawn shop and pawns the item. Once the pawn shop employee discovers the item was reported stolen, the police are called and they are arrested. Is this enough to charge and convict for theft? NO! In this situation, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are linked to the actual theft. You need to hire an experienced and aggressive theft attorney to expose the fact that although you may be guilty of the lesser crime of being in possession of stolen property, there is insufficient evidence to establish that you committed the crime of theft under Texas law.
Contact a Defense Attorney for Theft Charges in Tarrant County
If you, a friend, or a family member has been charged with a theft crime do not make the mistake of representing yourself. Contact the Hampton Law Firm now to ensure that you have an aggressive theft charge defense lawyer protecting your good name and future employment opportunities. At the Hampton Law Firm, you have the opportunity to work with a criminal defense team of 5 Former Prosecutors with over 80 years of criminal law experience and over 500 criminal jury trials. We understand what you are going through and look forward to putting together a customized defense strategy to help you maintain your freedom and clear your criminal record. Contact the Hampton Law Firm now for a free and confidential consultation.
Contact the Hampton Law Firm now for a free and confidential consultation.