Theft Crimes & Penalties Under Texas Law

The state of Texas takes criminal offenses involving theft, or larceny, very seriously. While charges and penalties can range widely depending on the unique facts involved, all theft crimes have the potential to result in severe and even life-altering penalties, including hefty fines and terms of imprisonment. Additionally, having a theft crime conviction on your record can make it difficult to find employment or be employed in certain jobs.

Penalties in theft crime cases are largely contingent on the unique facts and circumstances of your case. In particular, the following factors can influence punishment handed down by the court:

  • The nature of the offense (i.e. shoplifting vs. robbery)
  • The amount of money or value of property involved
  • Prior criminal convictions of theft

These factors are critical in theft crime cases, as they can mean the difference between no incarceration time to years in state or federal prison. For example, prior theft convictions can increase the severity of penalties. Because “theft crime” is an umbrella term that can refer to many different types of state or federal crimes, we’ve put together a list of some common offenses:

  • Shoplifting
  • Burglary, including burglary of car, home, or uninhabited building
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Auto Theft
  • Robbery, including armed robbery
  • Fraud, including insurance, tax, and health care fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Money laundering

Aside from the offense itself, the value of money or property that was taken can also play a role in the severity of charges and penalties a person faces. Under Texas statute, the following breakdown may apply, depending on the underlying charge:

  • Less than $1,500 – Theft involving less than $1,500 is a misdemeanor in most cases, except for those which may involve crimes such as burglary or robbery.
  • $1,500 - $20,000 – Thefts at this amount, depending on the underlying charge, can be prosecuted as state jail felonies punishable by 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and up to a $10,000 fine.
  • $20k - $100k – This is a third degree felony that carries between 2 and 10 years in prison, as well as fines.
  • $100k - $200k – A second degree felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison, in addition to fines.
  • $200k or more – A first degree felony that subjects convicted individuals to a minimum 5 years in prison and up to a 99 year sentence.

These values alone may not always dictate the penalties you face, as you must also consider the nature of the underlying charge, but they do show that Texas can take severe measures when punishing those convicted of a theft crime. Cases may also vary depending on whether a theft offense is prosecuted by the state or the federal government. Federal crimes involving theft are commonly referred to white collar crimes, and include many types of fraud offenses.

At Scott H. Palmer, P.C., our legal team is led by Attorney Scott Palmer, a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. As a specialist, Attorney Palmer is highly experienced in defending clients against fraud theft crime allegations at both the state and federal level, helping them understand the rights and penalties they face, and creating effective defense strategies that aim to secure the best outcome possible.

If you or someone you love has been charged with a theft or fraud offense, it’s important to speak with an experience attorney as soon as possible. Time can help your lawyer investigate the situation and build an effective defense. Contact us today for a consultation.