How Can a Theft Charge be Enhanced In Texas
Theft Enhancement In Texas
The term enhancement is used to define the process of “converting” low-level chargers such as misdemeanors into higher-level charges like felonies. Enhancements are common in criminal law and not just specific states like Texas. Our focus here will be on the enhancement of theft charges.
How Can A Theft Charge Be Enhanced In Texas?
Theft charges can be enhanced from a misdemeanor to felony charges under Texas law. Theft can be defined as everything from shoplifting to theft by check and theft of services, among many other situations where services/things are taken without being paid for.
In Texas, theft is treated as a crime of moral turpitude (i.e., an offense like fraud or depraved conduct shocking to reasonable individuals). As a result, individuals charged with theft usually have a hard time finding work with theft on their records.
Situations When Charges Could Be Enhanced In TX
Under Texas law, theft charges that start as misdemeanor offenses can be enhanced later to forms of felony. Theft charges are enhanced by adding other different theft charges together, resulting in a higher level crime.
Typical Example Of A Theft Charge Being Enhanced
If a person goes on a shoplifting spree in Texas and manages to steal goods worth $2,600 from different stores, the charge qualifies as different Class A misdemeanors. If the theft was orchestrated this way (stealing from different stores) to avoid felony charges, under Texas law, these small separate theft charges could be lumped up to one theft charge. Instead of separate Class A misdemeanors, the perpetrator can be charged with state jail felony resulting in a possible 180-day to 2-year jail time and fines not exceeding $10,000.
Other Instances Of Theft Charge Enhancement
Theft charges are also enhanced when the perpetrator has prior theft charges. If a person is arrested and charged for the second time for theft, they are bound to face harsher fines and longer sentences. Typically, Class C misdemeanors can be enhanced (to Class B or higher level charges) just because a person has prior theft charges.
Theft charges in Texas can also be enhanced if the items were stolen using sophisticated gadgets. For instance, if a shoplifter uses alarm deactivating instruments to steal, they can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor charge even if they have stolen items less than $750.
Punishments associated with a theft conviction can also be enhanced under other conditions. For instance, a public official/servant who utilizes their position to steal is bound to face enhanced theft charges. The same applies to government contractors who choose to steal from the government. Stealing from elderly persons or nonprofit organizations also comes with harsher charges regardless of the amount in question. Medical providers who steal from the government are also subjected to enhanced theft charges.
Other unique scenarios include theft that resulted in a fire alarm sounding or becoming activated. Theft involving deactivation of fire exit alarms or retail theft detectors also attracts stiffer penalties.
Theft charges can be enhanced based on the unique circumstances surrounding a crime. In simple terms, individuals whose theft charges are enhanced should expect to face harsher punishment that goes above/beyond typical cases.