Theft Lawyer Dallas
A Theft Lawyer In Dallas Can Define 9 Things People Should Know About Petty Theft
Petty Theft Means Many Things in Texas
Petty theft is defined under the Penal Code: Chapter 31. Under the law, theft ranges from stealing money to doctoring financial statements and removing anti-theft devices. Besides the typical petty theft definition involving stealing small sums or property without permission, some actions that aid loss of finances qualify as petty theft even if they can’t be quantified precisely.
What’s more, attempting to steal something of little value can result in a petty theft charge. While petty theft can mean many things, it usually results in a misdemeanor charge.
Petty Theft Can Result In Serious Consequences
Petty theft in Texas generally results in misdemeanor charges, which are the least serious charges. However, while you may not face hefty fines or a lengthy jail term, if any, you can suffer other serious consequences. A petty theft conviction usually results in an entry into your criminal record, which can affect many things in your future, including securing employment and a place to live. Landlords and employers consider criminal records before renting out property or hiring someone. Even though criminal records can be expunged, it takes time, exposing you to lost opportunities.
What’s more, charges can be enhanced. A theft charge, however small, can easily be enhanced or result in stiffer penalties in special cases. For instance, if the theft is directed at elderly or disadvantaged persons, judges can offer stiffer penalties. The same applies to stealing retirement funds or theft that involves taking advantage of people’s trust or vulnerable individuals. Since petty theft charges are subject to individual cases, a harsher sentence or fine is a possibility.
Petty Theft Falls Under Three Main Classes
As mentioned above, petty theft in Texas falls under misdemeanor charges which are either Class A, B, or C. Each of these classes attracts a different fine and jail time, if applicable. The classes are generally characterized by the amount in question. Class C involves stealing the least (property/items less than $100). The fine for Class C misdemeanors is $500. Perpetrators don’t serve a sentence.
Class B involves the theft of items valued at $100 to $750. This theft charge attracts fines not exceeding $2,000 per charge and a jail term of up to 180 days. Class A misdemeanor involves items valued from $750 to $2,500. This theft charge attracts up to 12-months in jail and fines not exceeding $4,000.
You Can Fight A Theft In Texas Charge By Claiming Mistaken Identity
For a petty theft charge to be proven, there must be an intentional act to steal or aid in stealing. Assuming you were arrested leaving a store while having paid for your items. If the alarm went off, such a scenario could be treated as an accident or mistaken identity. Even if your shopping basket has items that weren’t paid for, it could be caused by a clerk mistakenly adding such items to your shopping.
Such an incident can be treated as a crime when it was accidental. The same applies to self-checkout. If you pay for everything but forget to pay for an item located below your cart or other far-to-reach areas, such an incident could qualify as a mistake. Surrounding circumstances can show you didn’t intend to steal. However, you need a good attorney to have such a case dismissed.
There Needs For An Intention To Deprive The Owner To Prove Theft In Texas
The state must show you intended to deprive the rightful owner of the property permanently for a conviction to be possible. As a result, the specific facts of the case must be checked. The state also needs to make sense of the intention.
For instance, if you took something from a store and thought it was part of the free samples in an ongoing promotion, you can claim you didn’t intend to deprive the owner since the item was near other items and you couldn’t tell it was for sale.
In such cases, the display or signage needs to indicate clearly what was for sale. If there are ambiguous elements in the signage or display that can lead a reasonable person can misinterpret an offer, your charges can be dismissed. A criminal intention must be present. Failure to prove intent beyond reasonable doubt can result in charges being dismissed.
However, you need an aggressive theft attorney in Texas for such a defense to result in a case dismissal. The Medlin Law Firm has renowned theft attorneys with 79+ years’ experience defending individuals charged with theft in Texas.
Your Chances Of Fighting Petty Theft Charges In Texas Increase If You Hire A Lawyer
The consequences of petty theft are far-reaching, even if you won’t face a stiff fine or lengthy jail term. You risk being labeled a criminal which lowers your chances of getting a job, getting an apartment, or loan.
Lawyers come in handy since they understand all defenses that can have petty theft charges dismissed. There are multiple defenses used successfully by seasoned theft attorneys. They range from mistaken identity to challenging intent. A good theft lawyer in Dallas will know how to explain petty theft even if you are found with the item in hand.
What’s more, Texas law is harsh on petty theft offenders. While you can represent yourself, it’s not advisable to do so since the odds are against you from the onset. What’s more, working on your own case requires some legal expertise. If you aren’t knowledgeable or lack the time, representing yourself is a risk you shouldn’t take. Assuming your charges get enhanced, you could face jail time and harsher fines.
You Can Expunge A Petty Theft Record In Your File
As mentioned above, petty theft may involve small sums. However, a criminal record is entered. If you are convicted and fined but need to get rid of the criminal record entered, your shoplifting charge must be eligible for expunction. Most importantly, the case needs to be concluded to allow the expunction of records.
You can do this in many ways. If your petty theft in Texas charge is dismissed due to insufficient or lack of evidence, such a record can be expunged. The same applies to a charge that is conditionally dismissed or one that results in a not-guilty charge.
You Can’t Be Accused Of Petty Theft If The Item In Question Is Yours
If you are charged for petty theft in Texas for an item/s you paid for, such charges are bound to be dismissed. A perfect scenario would be a charge for shoplifting for an item you didn’t steal. Scanning equipment installed in stores can malfunction and raise alarms on items that have been paid for.
Other scenarios would be a charge linked to something your rightfully own. If you are a rightful owner, you can’t logically steal such an item. A typical example would be facing charges for stealing a ring or watching your own. It is possible for petty theft cases to be plagued by confusion. Law enforcement officers can confuse what has been paid for or stolen if a shoplifting incident involves many items lumped together.
Petty Theft Should Involve Physical Possession Of Items In Question
While the intention to steal can result in a charge, a conviction is unlikely unless the items in question were actually stolen. A typical scenario would be abandoning stolen items just before you are considered to have stolen them. For a shoplifter to be guilty, he/she must leave the store with the stolen item/s.
You can use your change of heart as a defense in a petty theft case if you return the item or abandon it before you are caught. This also applies even if you took time to collect items but abandon them before leaving the store, but still get arrested. Abandoning items removes the intent to permanently steal from the store. You can also argue that you realized you didn’t have money when it was too late. However, for such defenses to be used successfully, they need to be spearheaded by a seasoned theft attorney.
There’s more to know about theft in Texas. For instance, you can’t be guilty if someone else stole. Petty theft and related charges must prove the identity of the thief. For instance, the prosecutor must prove you shoplifted. Depending on the evidence in question, you may have been mistakenly targeted.
It is possible for CCTV footage to be vague. Your physical appearance can match that of the actual thief. You may also have accompanied someone else who actually stole. Police officers are guilty of arresting the wrong persons.
A good defense team can challenge the clarity of CCTV footage. If the evidence being relied upon doesn’t prove you stole beyond a reasonable doubt, the charges can be dismissed. Being present at a crime scene or during a crime isn’t enough to secure a conviction. If you didn’t assist or commit the crime, you could be charged.
For the above theft defenses to be used successfully, you need a seasoned theft lawyer in Dallas. Consider Medlin Law Firm attorneys with approximately eight decades of experience representing persons accused of petty theft and other forms of theft in Texas.