Depending on the circumstances, even otherwise minor theft crimes can result in serious criminal charges.
Theft crimes are a serious matter in Texas. Even otherwise petty thefts, such as shoplifting or stealing money and property, carry potentially severe consequences. Depending on the circumstances, a conviction for petty theft could involve heavy fines and a jail sentence. It can also do permanent damage to your reputation, leaving you with a criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life.
Under Section 31.03 of the Texas Penal Code , theft crimes involve taking or unlawfully appropriating money or property that does not belong to you, depriving the rightful owner of use. Petit (or petty) theft is often thought of as a relatively minor charge compared to more serious theft crimes such as robbery or grand larceny. Petty theft is generally charged as a misdemeanor criminal offense, rather than a felony. However, the penalties you could face if convicted can still be severe and depend on the type of petty crime of which you are accused:
● A first petty theft involving Items valued at less than $100 is considered a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $500.
● Thefts involving personal identification, such as a driver’s license, items valued at more than $100 but less than $750, or cases involving a prior conviction are classified as a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 day county jail sentence.
● Thefts involving money or property valued at between $750 and $2,500 or items stolen directly from another person are classified as a Class A misdemeanor. These are the most serious type of misdemeanor charge, with fines up to $4,000 and a possible one-year jail sentence.
A conviction for petty theft is something to be avoided at all costs. In addition to the penalties you face and the fact that it will make matters more severe if you face similar charges in the future, a conviction remains a part of your permanent public record.
Recorded through the Travis County Clerk’s Office , your charges will be posted online and will be accessible by individuals, businesses, potential employers, and government agencies. This can work against you when seeking a job, applying for security clearances, or even when filling out housing or loan applications. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help avoid this and other consequences of a conviction for petty theft one of three ways:
● By negotiating to have your charges dropped or reduced;
● By presenting evidence to get you acquitted of the charges;
● By arranging for a pretrial diversion program or deferred adjudication.
Do not take chances when it comes to your freedom and your future. At Granger and Mueller PC, we provide the strong legal representation needed to avoid the consequences of petty theft charges. To find out how we can help in your case, contact our Austin theft defense attorneys and request a consultation today.