What Are The Different Levels Of Theft?
Theft is a graded offense. There are enhancement provisions that surround it, depending on facts that pertain to the arrest and to the criminal history of the person who is charged. It’s graded by the amount of value associated with the property that was taken. If the amount of value is less than $100, then it’s a Class C offense. Class C offenses are tickets punishable by up to $500, plus court costs, and not punishable by jail time. Next is a Class B misdemeanor. Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to $2,000 and up to six months in jail. In order for it to be a Class b misdemeanor, the value of the property has to be between $100 and $750. In the case of a $750-$2,500 value of the property, it becomes a Class A, punishable by up to a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine. If the value of the property is between $2,500 and $30,000, it’s state jail felony punishable by a minimum of six months in a state jail facility and up to a $10,000 fine.
State jail felonies are also punishable by time in the county jail of up to a year and up to a $4,000 fine. In that case, it will be a felony conviction but punished as a misdemeanor. If the value is between $30,000 and $150,000, it is a third-degree felony. A value between $150,000 and $300,000 is a second-degree felony. Property valued at $300,000 or higher is a first-degree felony. Second-degree felonies are punishable by two to 20 years; third-degree felonies are punishable by two to 10 years, and first degree felonies are punishable by five years to life in prison. There are some other enhancements possible as well. For example, the theft of certain livestock animals is a third-degree felony. Theft from an ATM, regardless of the amount taken, is a second-degree felony.
There are also enhancements associated with people’s previous criminal history. If you have a prior theft conviction of any kind, even if you are charged with what would otherwise be a Class C theft, they will bump it up to a Class B. If you have two prior convictions, any theft under $2,500 is charged as a state jail felony.
I Committed Shoplifting But They Have Charged me With Felony Robbery. How Can They Do That?
Typically, when I see a shoplifter charged with felony robbery, what has happened is someone was committing shoplifting and they attempted to leave the store. When they left the store, they were accosted by loss prevention. However, when loss prevention tried to stop them, they physically resisted and possibly even assaulted loss prevention. The combination of a theft charge and using force or assaulting someone bumps it up to a robbery. Robbery is affecting a theft by using force or threat of force, and is defined by Texas Penal Code § 29.02 as follows:
(a) A person commits an offense if, in the course of committing theft as defined in Chapter 31 and with intent to obtain or maintain control of the property, he:
(1) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or
(2) intentionally or knowingly threatens or places another in fear of imminent bodily injury or death.
When loss prevention or someone who comes to the aid of loss prevention is assaulted in the course of the shoplifting, that person will oftentimes be charged with robbery.
If your defense attorney is able to explain the situation to the prosecutor, he may be able to get the charge reduced from a felony but it will be much more difficult to avoid a theft conviction. It is quite likely that you will still end up with some sort of theft conviction on your record. This is an example of how quickly a simple class B shoplifting can escalate into a 2nd-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
I Dined And Dashed And Am Now Charged with Theft Of Services. Is That The Same As Theft?
All theft offenses are incorporated under the same section of the Penal Code and theft of services is considered theft. The typical circumstances under which I see someone charged with theft of services is where someone drinks at a bar and then walks out on their tab ordines and dashes. The amount of the offense is graded in the same way that it is for theft, based on the value of the service. If it’s less than $100, it is a Class C offense but it is still a theft charge with all the bad associated consequences, and you should look at hiring an experienced attorney to represent you, in order to get the charge dismissed and not on your record.
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