Todd Ver Weire

Theft Offense Defense

Crimes against property cases in Williamson County can stem from numerous situations. Shoplifting, burglary, robbery, embezzlement, passing bad or hot checks, receiving stolen property, or using someone’s vehicle without their permission fall within the category of theft.

While I think we all agree that taking someone else’s property is bad, the level of bad in the criminal justice system is not only determined by how much you take, but who you took it from and if you have any prior convictions.

The value ladder in determining how severe the theft charge you face is as follows:

  • $100 but less than $750 is a Class B Misdemeanor
  • 750 but less than $2500 is a Class A Misdemeanor
  • $2500 but less than $30,000 is a State Jail Felony
  • $30,000 but less than $150,000 is a 3rd Degree Felony

The huge caveat in all of his is how did you take it, and who did you take it from.  For instance, if you took someone’s debit card, and withdrew $100, you may think well, that is a Class B Misdemeanor.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  In fact, using someone else’s credit card or debit card, even for that pack of gum or soft drink becomes a state jail felony.  However, if that same debit card belonged to an elderly individual, it is a 3rd Degree felony.  That Dr. Pepper just became really expensive.

The other thing to remember is that in Texas, if you have two prior theft convictions, a third conviction can be enhanced to a felony.  So, if you have two prior Class B theft convictions, and then decide to swipe that Yoo-hoo and pack of gum, you could face a felony.

As if the criminal penalties were not enough, a conviction for theft means that you committed a crime of moral turpitude.  In today’s culture you may not fully realize what that means – in a nutshell it means you cannot be trusted and lack good moral character.  These types of convictions can be used to attack your credibility (your trait for truthfulness), and can keep you from being able to work in certain jobs – a theft conviction means that Wal-Mart would not employ you as a cashier – even though they are doing away with them, and a bank would not employ you as a teller.  Also, it could keep you from being the Administrator/Executor of a loved one’s estate, or from a job that requires a surety bond, or certain licenses.

Because a theft conviction can have life-altering consequences, such as not being able to obtain certain licenses, or work as a cashier someplace, it is important that you hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Depending upon the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, it may be possible to agree to the dismissal of the case if the property is returned, the check is paid, or something along similar lines occurs.