When something -- anything of any value -- is taken from the owner, it's a theft. Although it's not very commonly charged, a theft can even occur if the stolen object is moved, even a little bit. So it's not necessary to actually leave or get away with the stolen item; a person can still be charged with theft, as long as the police/prosecutors believe there is an intent to steal.
Shoplifting is a general term for theft from a business or retail store. The elements of shoplifting are exactly the same as theft; in fact, there is no seperate crime of shoplifting. It is just 'theft'.
Theft offenses in Texas are differentiated based on the amount or value of the items taken. For instance, a book taken from a store, normally for sale at $15.99, would be a Class C Theft, since the total value is less than $100. But if $850 worth of DVDs are stolen, then it becomes a Class A misdemeanor, since the value is between $750-$2,500. Class B Thefts are in between, and anything over $1500 is a felony.
In Texas, some crimes are considered worse than others for moral reasons. Often, the issue of "crimes of moral turpitude" come up most commonly in immigration, federal sentencing, and background checks involving licensing, housing, and other related areas.
Crimes of Moral Turpitude are typically offenses involving traits of dishonestly and lack of trust. Offenses that, if convicted, may portrait the person as being dishonest. Crimes of Moral Turpitude are not set out by statute, but instead have evolved via caselaw and have common law roots. Crimes of Moral Turpitude include Theft, Forgery, Perjury, and other crimes directly related to a person's integrity. Crimes of Moral Turpitude are among the most commonly reported on criminal history background checks, and are scrutinized by potential employers, colleges, landlords, and law enforcement. This is true even on a Class C Theft -- it's not the level of offense or severity of the facts, but instead the charge itself.
Convictions of Crimes of Moral Turpitude also have devastating effects with personal rights. They may disqualify a person from serving on jury duty, holding public offices, obtaining licensing and clearance in certain fields, traveling into other counties, obtaining loans and mortgages, and more.
Theft is probably the most common crime of moral turpitude that we see in Austin, Travis County on a regular basis. Since theft involves taking something that belongs to another person, there is a presumed trait of dishonesty present. Thus, Theft is absolutly a crimte of moral turpitude.
Prior Theft convictions, even at the Class C level, can be used to enhance a current theft or theft related case. This is one of the main reasons to try and avoid a final conviction on a theft case (aside from Crime of Moral Turpitude concerns listed above).
Theft offenses are priorable, meaning that if you have a conviction on your criminal record, then the next arrest for theft you get will be used to enhance it to a more serious theft. The enhancement increases your offense by one level of severity. For example, if you were arrested for a Class B Theft (Theft of $100-$750 alleged value), then a prior theft could be used to enhance your class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor.
If you have two theft priors, then the third one, usually at arrest, will turn into a felony, regardless of the amount stolen. We've had cases where a person stole a make up, coffee, or a six pack of beer and ended up being charged with a felony, based soley on two prior theft convictions on that person's record.
The Keates Law Firm has over 14+ Years Experience handling criminal defense cases. Our focus is to try and have the case dismissed against you. We don't even discuss pleas until all legal and negotiation options have been explored in detail.
Our Results Speak for Themselves. Keates Law Firm has a record of dismissals and acquittals in a variety of criminal cases. We are dismissal focused, and we get results.
Sec. 31.03. THEFT. (a) A person commits an offense if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property.
|Value of items stolen||Level of Offense||Punishment||Fines|
|less than $100||Class C Misdemeanor||Not Jailable||No more than $500 fines|
|$100 or more but less than $750||Class B Misdemeanor||Not more than 180 days in a county jail and/or no more than $2,000 fines|
|$750 or more but less than $2,500||Class A Misdemeanor||Not more than 1 year in a county jail and/or no more than $4,000 fines|
|$2,500 or more but less than $30,000||State jail felony||180 days to 2 years in a state jail and/or no more than $10,000 fines|
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