Theft Defense Lawyer in Austin, TX
Being convicted of theft can adversely affect every aspect of your life. You may face prison time and costly fines upon conviction, followed by challenges when looking for a job or somewhere to live upon release. An individual’s criminal record is a public record that potential employers, landlords, and others can find with a simple internet search.
At Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., our theft lawyers understand the importance of a solid defense following an arrest for shoplifting, robbery, embezzlement, or other theft charges. Our seasoned criminal defense lawyers in Austin, TX, will protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome. You can depend on our team to work tirelessly on your behalf you.
Contact us today for a confidential legal consultation and learn how we can defend you against theft charges in Texas.
Types of Theft Crimes in Austin, TX
Contact a theft crime lawyer at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C. in Austin, TX, today if you have been charged with:
- Petty theft, or misdemeanor theft, in which the value of the property involved is less than $1,500, with certain exceptions. Misdemeanor theft in Texas can be charged as a Class A, Class B, or Class C misdemeanor, depending on the value of the property allegedly stolen.
- Grand theft, in which the value of the property involved exceeds $500. Grand theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the property allegedly stolen.
- Shoplifting, which is the unlawful taking of property from a store, retailer, or merchant with the intent to deprive the retailer or merchant of the property without their consent. Shoplifting can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the property allegedly stolen.
- Burglary, or entering a habitation or building, a vehicle, or a coin-operated machine without the consent of the owner and with the intent to commit theft, assault, or a felony. Burglary is a second-degree felony if it was committed in a dwelling and is a first-degree felony if the intent was to commit a felony other than theft.
- Robbery, which means that during an alleged theft, the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly either caused bodily injury to someone else or threatened or placed someone else in fear of imminent bodily injury or death. Robbery is charged as a felony of the second degree.
- Aggravated robbery, which includes the elements of robbery plus displaying a deadly weapon or robbing someone who is 65 years old or older or who is disabled. Aggravated robbery is charged as a felony in the first degree.
- Auto theft / carjacking. Texas law defines grand theft auto as the taking of someone else’s vehicle with the intent to keep it. Grand theft auto is charged as a felony. Carjacking is taking a vehicle from the owner through the use or threat of force. Carjacking is charged as a second-degree felony or as a first-degree felony if it includes elements of aggravated robbery.
- Credit card theft. Several actions can lead to charges of credit card fraud in Texas, such as stealing someone’s credit card, using a credit card without permission, falsifying information on a credit card application, making and/or using counterfeit credit cards, or cloning or skimming credit card information. Credit card fraud is charged as a state felony in Texas.
- Theft by check, which means using a check to obtain property from its owner while knowing that there are not sufficient funds on deposit with the bank to cover the check. Theft by check may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony based on the monetary value of the checks written.
- Theft of service, which means obtaining a service by means of deception or threat with the intent to avoid payment. Keeping rental property beyond the agreed-upon rental period may lead to theft of service charges. Theft of service can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the service rendered.
- Receiving stolen goods. Texas law says that, by definition, receiving or concealing stolen property is theft if the individual in possession of the property knew or should have known it was stolen. Charges of receiving stolen goods can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the property.
- Embezzlement, which means wrongfully taking or withholding financial assets from their rightful owner and converting them for your own personal use. Embezzlement often involves accusations of an employee stealing from their employer. But it may occur with the theft of money by anyone in a position of trust, such as a family member or caretaker. Embezzlement may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the monetary value of the alleged theft. Embezzlement from someone 65 years old or older or a nonprofit organization, or by a public servant leads to enhanced charges.
- Extortion, which typically means using threats of physical harm, destruction of property, or other illegal actions to coerce money, services, or something else of value from an alleged victim. Extortion is charged as either a misdemeanor or felony theft in Texas, depending on the value of money or services allegedly taken. An individual who allegedly extorts property under the color of official right — a public officer’s wrongful use of official power — may face federal charges under the Hobbs Act.
Texas Theft Laws
Texas Penal Code § 31.03 says a person commits the offense of theft if they unlawfully appropriate property with intent to deprive the owner of the property.
The appropriation of property is unlawful if:
- It is without the owner’s effective consent
- The property is stolen, and the actor appropriates the property knowing it was stolen by another
Several specific types of theft are redefined under Texas statutes as falling under the above definition of theft, including theft by false pretext, theft from the person, acquisition of property by threat, swindling, and others. Several other illegal acts do not appear in Texas statutes by name but are charged as theft if they meet any of the elements of theft as outlined above.
Theft Penalty Charges
Texas law outlines various punishments for the crime of theft, which become more severe as the monetary value of the allegedly stolen property increases.
Theft involving property or services valued at less than $1,500 is typically charged as one of three classes of misdemeanor.
|Misdemeanor||Value of Property/Service||Maximum Penalties|
|Class C||Less than $100||$500 fine|
|Class B||$100-$750 or a prior theft conviction||$2,000 fine, 180 days in jail|
|Class A||$750-$2,499||$4,000 fine, 1 year in jail|
Penalties for certain types of theft are set by statute. For example, theft of a driver’s license or state-issued identification card is charged as a Class B misdemeanor. Stealing a firearm is a state jail felony, regardless of the value of the weapon. Theft of an official ballot or carrier envelope for an election is also a state jail felony.
Theft involving property values of $2,500 but less than $30,000 is also charged as a state jail felony. If convicted of a state jail felony, you could face between 180 days and 2 years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
Penalties for high-value theft increase with the value of the property or services involved.
|Felony||Stolen Property Value||Potential Penalties|
|Third Degree||$30,000 – $149,999||2-10 years in prison, $10,000 fine|
|Second Degree||$150,000-$299,999||2-20 years in prison, $10,000 fine|
|First Degree||$300,000 or more||5-99 years in prison, $10,000 fine|
Criminal Defense for All Theft Crimes
As your theft crime lawyers, Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C. will develop a defense strategy for the specific circumstances of your case. Our defense attorneys will examine the evidence against you and argue to have disputable evidence excluded from future proceedings.
There are several types of police or prosecutorial misconduct that may lead to charges being dropped if they exist in your case. They include:
- Illegal search and seizure
- Faulty suspect lineup
- Witnesses who are not credible
- Faulty or fabricated testimony
- Faulty forensic testing regarding DNA evidence
- Bias based on your race, ethnicity, immigration status, gender, sexual orientation, age, or socioeconomic status
In some cases, a defendant may make restitution to the alleged victim of a theft in exchange for dropping charges. For a first-time or nonviolent offender, our experienced criminal defense attorneys may be able to negotiate a plea bargain resulting in probation, a fine, or community service. Because our attorneys are well-known and respected in local courthouses, negotiating such accommodations for deserving defendants is possible in many cases.
We will represent you with a strong defense if a trial is necessary. Theft cases often focus on rightful ownership. Sometimes the issue is whether there was an agreement to transfer ownership, such as in an undocumented sale. In other cases, there may have been expressed or implied consent allowing the property to be borrowed.
Potential defenses to charges of theft include:
- Lack of intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property in question
- Defendant’s legitimate claim of rights to the property
- Inability to establish true ownership of the property
- Inability to establish the defendant’s possession of the property
- Entrapment, coercion, or other inducements by someone else for the defendant to commit the alleged theft
- Mental impairment that prevented an understanding of the consequences of the defendant’s actions at the time of the alleged theft
- Incorrect property valuation
At trial, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you. As your theft defense attorneys, we will question the prosecution’s case and work to raise sufficient doubt to prevent the jury from returning a guilty verdict.
The options available will depend on the specific charges you face and the evidence supporting the prosecution’s case. In all cases, we will seek the outcome most favorable to our client.
Get Help from a Highly Experienced Texas Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for shoplifting, robbery, embezzlement, or another theft crime in Texas, you should not try to fight the charges on your own without an experienced defense attorney. The theft crime lawyers of Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., are dedicated to providing skilled criminal defense representation to clients in Austin, TX, and throughout Travis, Hays, and Williamson counties.
For more than 50 years, Samuel Bassett, Dave Minton, Perry Minton, John Carsey, and the other dedicated attorneys of MBFC have aggressively defended the rights of Texans who sought our help while remaining committed to providing clients outstanding customer service and personalized representation. At MBFC, our clients are important to us. We strive to provide them with the legal representation they need if they have been arrested and charged with robbery or theft.
Our offices at 1100 Guadalupe Street, Austin, Texas, are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Contact us online today or phone (512) 476-4873 for your confidential consultation with an Austin theft defense attorney. We strive to respond within the hour or within 24 hours at the latest. Call now.