Stealing is stealing, right? Well, if you are accused of stealing something in Texas, it’s not that simple. In normal terms, we think burglary, robbery and theft are all stealing. Technically, that’s true. But, in the legal sense, there are some pretty big differences in what those can mean for you.
• Theft is any action that involves unlawfully acquiring property with intent to deprive the owner of that particular property (stealing, basically). This includes taking property without consent or stealing previously stolen property. But, it’s still not that simple. There are several degrees of theft.
Theft is exactly what it sounds like and could include stealing a few dollars or small items all the way up to millions of dollars or high end items.
In Texas, the penalties for theft are determined by the value of property you are accused of stealing. Anything valued at less than $100 can lead to a Class C Misdemeanor and a fine of up to $500. However, if you are accused of stealing more valuable property, you could be fined thousands of dollars and face years of jail time.
• Burglary is defined as an action where a person enters a building or home without consent in order to commit a theft, assault or felony. Unlike robbery or theft, you can be charged for burglary without actually stealing anything. If you have been accused of burglary (whether or not you stole anything), this is a very serious charge and you could be facing a second degree felony, anywhere between two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
• Robbery is the more serious offense you can be accused of as it has a characteristic the others don’t. You can be accused of robbery if you intentionally, knowingly or recklessly harmed or threatened to harm someone while attempting to steal something. This is a tricky charge because you don’t actually have to physically harm a person to be accused of robbery, even a verbal or perceived threat can apply. The penalties for robbery are more serious and can include a second degree felony charge, between two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you are accused of a theft crime, the consequences can be devastating and your future could be jeopardized. If you are being accused of theft, contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. If you are confronted by police officers, politely refuse to discuss anything and request to have a lawyer present. Never agree to anything, including plea bargains, searches and do not waive any of your rights. A criminal defense attorney can protect your interests and your rights in the situations.
Mike Goolsby is a Dallas criminal defense attorney that can help you if you are accused of any crime. We also provide help in the McKinney, Arlington, Plano and Forth Worth areas of Texas.