What is Theft?
A theft occurs, in Texas, when you intentionally deprive someone else of their property by the use of deception. Once someone has been convicted of theft, they carry a label for the rest of their life. Theft can occur in several different forms. There’s misappropriation of fiduciary property, where a trusted employee takes money entrusted to them by their employer and uses it for their own purposes. There’s fraud, where someone takes the property of someone else by pretending to be that person with a credit card or with a check. There’s also robbery and burglary. A robbery occurs when you use force to take property off of the person of someone and burglary is when you break into their home or into an unoccupied structure and take property that way. Theft is different from other forms of burglary and robbery in the sense that in burglary and robbery, it is the act that is punished. In a theft case, a fraud case, or a misappropriation of fiduciary property case, the amount of the theft is what determines how serious it is. Depending on how much you took, you can get charged with anything from a first-degree felony to a Class B misdemeanor.
Are People Who Are Charged With Petty Theft Always Arrested?
Many times, when someone is shoplifting, if they shoplifted in an amount that is considered petty theft, they are not arrested. They are simply cited (given what looks like a traffic ticket) and released. That is still as serious as being arrested for theft and needs to be taken very seriously. If you’re convicted of it and you don’t receive deferred adjudication, you will have a criminal record for theft, which is very serious.
For instance, if you’re ever in a car accident and you have to testify about how much damages you have if you’ve been convicted of a theft, the attorney for the person who caused you injury can ask you questions about that and attack your credibility. It can follow you around for the rest of your life. Even though you’re not arrested for Class C misdemeanor theft, it’s still very important to hire a lawyer and to take that charge seriously.
What Does The Prosecution Have To Prove In A Theft Case?
In a theft case, the prosecution has to prove that you intentionally took the items that they are accusing you of taking. They have to prove the value of those items and they have to prove that it was taken without the consent of the person who owns the items. This is becoming more difficult as stores are becoming more serious about prosecuting theft charges. It’s become a profit avenue for stores. When you’re arrested for a theft case, you’ll get letters in the mail and these are civil demand letters from the store where you were arrested, demanding that you pay fees, even if they received the property back.
These civil demand letters should not be paid. Usually, they are from out of state lawyers who shouldn’t be practicing law in Texas. You should be very careful about what you do next. You absolutely need to make sure that you have the advice of a lawyer before you make these decisions. The prosecution has to prove that you intentionally took the item, that you took it without consent, and that you took an item with a specific value. Sometimes, we can look at the video from the store to see how intentional the act was. A lot of stores keep some items outdoors, right by the door. It can be difficult for the state to prove that you were leaving the store with the intent to take this item, when you may have simply been obtaining other items from just outside the store.
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