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Theft in Texas: Elements, Value Ladder, and Punishments

Texas law defines theft as the unlawful appropriation of property with intent to deprive the owner of the property. To be convicted of theft, the prosecution must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Unlawful Appropriation: The defendant took the property without the owner’s consent.
  • Property: The thing taken can be movable property (like a car or phone) or certain intangible property (like checks or services).
  • Deprive Owner: The defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property, not just temporarily use it.

Texas Theft Value Ladder and Punishments

Texas classifies theft offenses based on the value of the stolen property. The value determines the severity of the offense and the potential punishment range. Here’s a breakdown of the value ladder and punishments:

Value of Stolen Property Offense Classification Punishment Range
Less than $100 Class C Misdemeanor Fine up to $500
$100 or more but less than $750 Class B Misdemeanor Up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $2,000
$750 or more but less than $2,500 Class A Misdemeanor Up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $4,000
$2,500 or more but less than $30,000 State Jail Felony 180 days to two years in state jail and/or a fine up to $10,000
More than $30,000 Higher level felonies The punishment range continued to increase for theft charges over $30,000

Additional Factors Affecting Punishment

  • Prior Convictions: Previous theft convictions can elevate the offense level and increase potential penalties.
  • Type of Property: Stealing certain types of property, like firearms or identification cards, can be a felony even for lower values.
  • Aggravating Circumstances: Factors like using force or violence during the theft can lead to harsher punishments.

Important Notes

  • This is a simplified overview. The specific charges and penalties can vary depending on the circumstances of the case.
  • If you are facing theft charges in Texas, it’s crucial to consult with an attorney to understand the specific details of your case and potential consequences.