Theft is a broad term that can refer to numerous behaviors that may deprive others of access to or control over certain assets. Shoplifting and embezzlement are both forms of theft, as are burglary and robbery. However, each of these scenarios likely conjures a very different image. They have differing levels of impact on the people or businesses that lose control over assets.
Despite the many different forms that theft can take, some of the rules about property crimes remain consistent. For example, with the exception of offenses involving specific kinds of property, it is typically the overall value of the assets that will determine what charges and penalties someone faces.
At what point does a theft offense in Texas become a felony?
Just $1,500 is enough for a state jail felony offense
There are three categories of misdemeanor theft and four different categories of felony theft established in Texas state law. Theft of property worth up to $1,500 will typically result in misdemeanor charges. The value of the property will determine the class of the misdemeanor charge and therefore the specific penalties that apply.
Once the value of the assets involved reaches $1,500, the charge someone faces will become a state jail felony theft offense instead of a misdemeanor. Those convicted of state jail felony theft will face up to two years in Texas state custody and $10,000 in fines.
If the total value of the assets reaches $20,000, the charges increase to third-degree felony theft charges which can lead to up to 10 years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine. The top category of felony theft begins with property or services valued at over $200,000. Charges in this top category can lead to between five and 99 years in prison.
There are also certain types of property that can trigger enhanced charges. Firearms and livestock are among the assets that can lead to felony charges even when their value is actually well below that $1,500 threshold. The specific charges the state intends to pursue and the possible penalties will likely influence what someone wants to do in response to a pending theft charge. Learning more about Texas criminal statutes can benefit those accused of violating the law.