Texas prosecutors take theft crime charges extremely seriously. Yet, many Texas residents who are facing theft charges are innocent. If you are facing a theft crime in Fort Worth, you need to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The more time your legal team has to prepare your defense of a Texas theft charge, the better.
Contact Our Texas Theft Defense Lawyers
At Jumes Law, our Fort Worth theft defense lawyers have a successful track record for defending clients against theft charges. Contact our law firm today to schedule your initial consultation. Our legal team can evaluate the facts of your unique case and develop a winning defense strategy. The following legal defense strategies can be extremely beneficial when defending against theft charges.
You Made an Honest Mistake
One of the most used defenses for theft crimes is that you honestly did not believe that you were stealing the item. Texas theft law requires that the defendant knows that the property has been stolen or appropriates the property knowing it was stolen by someone else. Perhaps you believe that you owned the item at the time the incident happened. Perhaps you can provide evidence that you owned the item, or had a right to access the item when you were charged with theft. Or, you may not have known that the property was stolen by another person.
Sometimes, defendants borrow an item from a friend or loved one and forget to return the item. Or, the item may have been hidden from sight in your shopping bag or shopping cart. Intent is an important element in Texas theft charges. Prosecutors cannot convict you of the crime of theft if they cannot prove that you intended to steal the item.
You Were Borrowing the Object in Question
In order to be convicted of theft, the prosecutor must prove that you intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property or the services or value. If you can provide evidence that you believed that the property owner gave you the right to borrow the property, you will have a compelling defense.
You Lacked Any False Pretenses
This defense of theft only applies to certain types of theft charges. For example, for the crime of fraud, prosecutors need to prove that the defendant misrepresented himself or a situation in order to steal money or assets. If part of your theft charges include you misrepresenting yourself in order to commit theft, you can argue that you did not misrepresent yourself. When prosecutors do not have evidence to prove that you did have false pretenses, this defense may prove to be a winning strategy.
Typically, the action of returning property that has allegedly been stolen will not result in your charges being dismissed. However, if you returned stolen property, a Texas judge may be more sympathetic to you during the sentencing process. Sometimes, defendants receive a reduced sentence when they use evidence that they returned the stolen property as part of their legal defense.
You Were Entrapped
Entrapment is a legal defense for Texas theft crimes. Entrapment happens when someone uses you to commit theft. The person who threatened you must have intended for you to face arrest and prosecution for theft charges to make this defense. Typically, entrapment happens when someone committed a crime as part of a government-ordered sting operation.
You Committed the Theft Under the Duress
Were you forced to commit the crime of theft due to a threat of harm to you or your family, you can raise the defense of duress. For example, if someone threatened you with violence if you did not commit the theft, you can argue that you committed the crime under duress. Duress often happens when a teenager forces another teenager to steal property or shoplift. In other cases, gangs will threaten someone with harm if they do not steal property.
You Did Not Know the Goods Were Stolen
You can face theft charges for buying or accepting goods that were stolen by someone else. An example of this crime would be a pawn shop owner purchasing a good while knowing that the good was stolen by someone else. In that scenario, the pawnshop owner might be guilty of theft even though he or she did not steal the good himself or herself. However, prosecutors will need to prove that you had actual knowledge that the goods were stolen at the time you took possession of them.
You Did Your Due Diligence Before Selling a Car
You can also be charged with theft for failing to take affirmative action. For example, if you sell a car that does not come with a properly executed title of ownership, you can face theft charges. In this situation, you will need to present evidence that the car did come with a title, or that you did do your due diligence.
Common Theft Charges in Texas
Texas recognizes several different types of theft, to include:
- Petty theft
- Grand theft
Penalties for Theft Crimes in Texas
The penalties for theft depend on the specific type of theft charge as well as the defendant’s prior criminal record. When the defendant steals goods or services valued at $50 or less, they will face Class C misdemeanor charges, which come with a fine of up to $500. If the theft involves property or services valued at $200,000 or more, they will face first-degree felony charges that can result in 99 years or more in prison. The crimes of theft and larceny are serious offenses in Texas.
Contact Our Fort Worth Theft Charge Lawyers
If you are facing any type of theft charge in Fort Worth, Jumes Law can help. We know how to craft a compelling legal defense on behalf of our clients. Time is of the essence when it comes to fighting your criminal charges. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.