Have you been arrested for theft or robbery in Fort Worth? If so, you’re not alone. In 2019, nearly 500,000 people in Texas were arrested for larceny-theft, making it one of the most common criminal offenses in the state, and nearly 30,000 were arrested for robbery.
So what do you do if you’ve been arrested for theft or robbery? The first thing you should do is consult with an attorney. A theft crimes attorney will be able to help you understand your rights, negotiate a plea deal if you want to plead guilty, or defend you in court against the charges.
When it comes to robbery, the penalties tend to be stiffer, as robbery is a felony offense, while theft may be a misdemeanor, depending on the amount. Either way, an experienced attorney is necessary.
If you are facing theft or robbery charges and are in need of an attorney, read on to learn more about what a criminal lawyer can do to help you.
Understanding Theft Charges in Texas
In Texas, the type of theft you are charged with depends on the value of the item or items that were stolen. State laws specify where the case will be handled and the potential punishment based on the value.
Petty Theft / Class C Misdemeanor Theft
If you steal something worth less than $100, you can be charged with petty theft, which is a misdemeanor. The case will be handled in municipal court and typically, the punishment is a fine (the maximum amount is $500) and/or community service.
Class B Misdemeanor Theft
If the value of the item or items you steal is more than $100 but less than $750, you will be charged with Class B theft. You can also be charged for a Class B theft if it is your second offense (even if you steal something less than $100). This type of theft results in a fine of up to $2,000 and can also come with a sentence of up to 180 days in jail.
Class A Misdemeanor Theft
Stealing items that are more than $750 but less than $2,500 can bring Class A theft charges. This type of theft charge is accompanied by a potential of a fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail.
You can also be charged with Class A misdemeanor theft if you steal items of any amount and use shielding or deactivating instruments, such as a tool to remove security tags or metal- or foil-lined bag.
State Jail Felony
Most felony theft charges are first, second, or third-degree. A state jail felony theft charge is any type of felony theft that is not included in one of those three categories. It can result in fines up to $10,000 or between 180 days to 2 years in state jail. Thefts between $2,500 and $29,999 are typically considered state jail felonies.
Third-Degree Felony Theft
Stealing property that has a value between $30,000 and $150,000 is considered a third-degree felony. This type of charge carries a fine of up to $10,000 and 2 to 10 years of incarceration.
Second-Degree Felony Theft
Theft of property that is more than $150,000 but less than $300,000 is a second-degree felony. This felony could result in a fine of up to $10,000 and incarceration for 2 to 20 years.
First-Degree Felony Theft
First-degree felony theft is the most serious theft charge in Texas. Stealing anything above $300,000 is a first-degree felony and the offender faces a fine of up to $10,000 but could also be imprisoned for up to 99 years. A first-degree felony carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years.
Understanding Robbery Charges in Texas
Although robbery and theft both involve taking property that does not belong to you, there are some significant differences. In Texas, a robbery occurs if a person, in the course of committing a theft, intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another or intentionally or knowingly threatens or places another in fear of imminent bodily injury or death.
This type of robbery is considered a second-degree felony and can carry a fine of up to $10,000 and anywhere from 2 to 20 years in prison.
Aggravated robbery occurs if a person, in the course of committing a theft, causes serious bodily injury to another, uses or exhibits a deadly weapon, or causes bodily injury to another person or threatens or places another person in fear of imminent bodily injury if that person is 65 years of age or older or a disabled person.
Aggravated robbery is a first-degree felony, and like first-degree felony theft, can result in a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to 99 years.
Theft and Robbery Defenses
In some circumstances, you may choose to plead guilty to your theft or robbery charges. If your defense attorney negotiates a plea bargain, for example, you will often trade your guilty plea for a lesser sentence and avoidance of a trial.
In other circumstances, you may choose to defend yourself in court. Your defense attorney will advise you on your best course of action, but some potential defenses that may be used in theft or robbery cases include:
- Intoxication (while not an excuse, you may use this to defend your actions and argue that you weren’t in your right mind and didn’t have the necessary intent to commit robbery or theft)
- Rightful ownership (if you can argue, and prove, that you were the rightful owner of the item)
- Innocence (you simply argue that it was not you that committed the crime)
- Necessity (another affirmative defense; you are admitting you committed the crime but also arguing that it is justified for some reason)
The criminal justice system is complicated and if you are not an expert, it’s not wise to represent yourself. Although you do have that right, a criminal defense attorney will best be able to handle your case and advise you. Their years of experience will often give them an idea of how your case may go.
Do You Need a Theft Crimes Attorney?
Are you charged with theft or robbery and are in need of a theft crimes attorney? The first few court hearings will happen fairly quickly, so it’s wise to talk to an attorney right away. If you get an experienced professional to handle your case from the start, you will better off and will likely fare better in the court system.
If you need an attorney, don’t hesitate to contact us at Hoeller McLaughlin PLLC. Our attorneys specialize in criminal cases and all of our attorneys are former prosecutors.