Theft and Sentencing for Theft in Austin
Theft is a crime that is as old as the concept of material possession of goods. Recorded history doesn’t go back as far as the first accusation of theft, but we assume that five seconds after someone came up with the idea of “this is mine,” someone else came up with the idea of “now it’s mine!” But of course the idea of stealing is just as old as the harsh reality of being falsely accused of stealing.
A theft is considered a criminal case, like arson, assault, disorderly conduct, or murder. Austin criminal cases generally involve an insult to society as a whole, and should involve the services of a qualified Austin criminal lawyer. On the other hand, civil cases reflect disagreements between two parties, like fraud, malpractice, and libel.
In modern Texas law, theft and its consequences punishments are closely tied to the value of whatever has been allegedly stolen. The law attempts to put a monetary value on the crime, and the sentencing for the theft corresponds to that value.
The lowest level of theft in Texas is “petty theft” or Class C misdemeanor theft. At this level, the value of the stolen item or service is estimated at less than $50, and conviction results in a fine less than $500 and no jail time.
Class B misdemeanor theft covers a value range of $50 to $500 or a driver’s license or similar ID card. For Class B theft, the convicted party can be sentenced to up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2000.
Class A misdemeanor theft applies to property or services in the range of $500 to $1500. Sentencing for this crime is a jail term of up to a year and/or a fine of up to $4000.
At $1500 to $20,000, theft becomes “state jail felony theft” in Texas. This also applies if the stolen property is of a special category, including things like firearms or livestock. This crime carries a punishment of 180 days to 2 years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Note that there was no “and/or” in that last sentence — just an “and.”
When the theft is valued at $20,000 to $100,000, you’re looking at felony of the third degree theft and a punishment of two to ten years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Felony of the second degree theft covers values of $100,000 to $200,000 and carries a consequence of 2 to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
The docket ends at felony of the first degree theft, which as you might have guessed covers thefts of goods and services valued at greater than $200,000. As you might expect for grand theft, sentencing for this crime is severe: 5 to 99 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
In Texas law, the statute of limitations on theft is five years (Tex. Crim. P. Code § 12.01(4)(A)), meaning that a plaintiff cannot bring suit against a defendant for a theft that is five years old or older.
Of course, if you’ve been accused of theft of any magnitude, or if you suspect someone of theft, you should talk to a qualified Austin criminal lawyer to discuss your options. Don’t hesitate to contact the Law Firm of James Gill for a free consultation. We’re here to help.