Theft Categories And Their Penalties In Texas

In Texas, many criminal offenses fall under the broad category of theft—from shoplifting and bounced checks to purchasing stolen items. The severity of the penalties, ranging from a small fine to a lengthy prison sentence in extreme circumstances, usually depends on the stolen item’s value.

The Texas Penal Code defines theft as taking another person’s property without that person’s permission, either by physically taking the item or deceiving the owner. In addition, the perpetrator must have taken the property long enough to deplete the owner of its value for it to be called theft. Moreover, according to Texas law, it is also theft if you take something and then return it for a reward.

The court must find out that you acted with criminal intent—that you knew the object belonged to someone else and that you didn’t have their consent to take it. In addition, they must prove that you have or have had custody of the object. 

For instance, the court may use physical evidence, such as security camera footage or comments from a witness, an accomplice, or you, to prove their case and prosecute you.

Understanding The Categories And Penalties For Theft In Texas

What Is Theft?

Theft occurs when someone takes another person’s belongings, intending to permanently rob them of the item. However, different degrees and specific theft crimes carry certain penalties under the law.

Depending on the facts of the case, the court may classify theft as a misdemeanor or a felony. In addition, the severity of the theft charges will determine the type of punishment the defendant will receive. Therefore, it is critical for anyone facing theft charges to know their potential consequences and legal defenses.

For instance, charges and penalties for stealing a low-value item from a business will be less severe than those for stealing someone else’s car. Stealing will also be a more severe crime if someone uses force or weapons to commit it. 

Examples Of Theft

Law enforcement may arrest individuals for alleged stealing offenses in various situations. A typical example is when someone tries to take anything from a store owner without that person’s knowledge, permission, or payment. 

It is also a significant theft offense to interfere with someone who has just left an ATM and take their money. Criminal proceedings against the suspected perpetrator may apply when an offender takes money or property from its legitimate owner.

When Does Theft Become A Felony?

Texas law enforcement frequently charges theft offenses, such as shoplifting and petty theft, as misdemeanors. The Texas Penal Code does, however, contain numerous instances in which theft may classify as a felony. A theft accusation may become a felony depending on the stolen property’s value, the type of property taken, how the offender took it, and the criminal history of the accused.

Property Value

One aspect determining whether the court will classify a theft offense as a misdemeanor or felony is the value of the property taken. Theft cases with a property value of less than $2500 are often misdemeanors. 

For example, petty theft charges range in severity from class B infractions to Class A misdemeanors. However, if the property value exceeds $2500, authorities will classify it as a felony.

Several more elements, such as whether the offender used a weapon in the theft or whether they have prior convictions for theft-related offenses, can also affect how severe the theft accusation is. Therefore, it is evident that property plays a significant role in theft allegations in Texas.

You should treat it seriously if you face these types of criminal charges, even if the specifics of each case vary depending on unique circumstances and local laws. Keeping this information in mind, you can safeguard yourself from the potentially severe repercussions of theft-related criminal charges.

Property Type And The Manner Of Stealing

Another aspect determining whether the criminal court will treat the offense as a misdemeanor or felony is the property taken. However, law enforcement will always charge an offense as a felony if the stolen item is a firearm or cattle.

The gravity of the theft accusation may also depend on how the offender took the property. Burglary, shoplifting, transportation, and cyber theft are a few of the most prevalent types.


Burglary refers to when someone enters a building or residence without authorization and steals or damages the property while there. Because this kind of theft is a highly severe offense, the court treats it as a felony and gives punishments according to its degree.


Shoplifting refers to taking products from a store while hiding them on the person, in a bag, or in a backpack. The criminal court may prosecute this offense as a felony, similar to burglary, depending on elements, including the amount and nature of the stolen goods. Additionally, those who steal while carrying firearms may be subject to harsher accusations and punishments.

Transportation Theft

Theft committed via physical or electronic means, such as credit card fraud or identity theft, is transportation theft. It also involves goods, and the court almost always prosecutes this offense as a felony due to the possibility of widespread harm and loss.

Cyber Theft

Cyber theft refers to theft carried out online using technology. Some examples are building bogus websites to steal money from unwary customers, breaking into bank accounts or other financial accounts, illegally accessing private information saved online, and more.

Law enforcement may charge cyber theft, like other forms of property theft, as a misdemeanor or a felony based on the amount taken and whether the perpetrator committed any other offenses. Therefore, it is crucial to seek legal representation to ensure authorities uphold your rights throughout the criminal justice process, regardless of your charges.

Criminal History

The gravity of a theft charge in Texas frequently depends on a person’s criminal history. People with criminal records may face harsher treatment if authorities suspect them of theft since they may be more prone to committing future crimes.

For instance, a person with a criminal history of robbery or burglary may receive a jail sentence for a minor stealing accusation. The stolen item’s value and any aggravating circumstances connected to the crime may also affect the ruling.

It is undoubtedly more challenging to argue for leniency during a theft trial if you have a criminal past, but it is not impossible. A knowledgeable and experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer can assist in putting together a defense that considers all pertinent information to perhaps gain a favorable outcome for the client. 

Therefore, anyone in Texas accused of stealing should immediately consider getting legal counsel. Even persons with prior convictions may avoid hefty penalties for their alleged crimes with legal counsel and adequate preparation.

Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains The Categories And Penalties For Theft

Categories And Penalties For Theft In Texas

There are various types of theft in Texas. Learn what they are and their corresponding penalties.

Petty Theft

In Texas, petty theft is a Class C misdemeanor involving goods worth less than $100. Municipal courts handle Class C misdemeanors, wherein perpetrators typically face penalties of up to $500 or community service.

Class B Misdemeanor Theft

Theft involving things valued between $100 and $750 is a Class B misdemeanor. Even if the stolen goods are worth less than $100, law enforcement will still classify it as a Class B misdemeanor if the offender is facing charges for a second time or is already facing a theft prosecution. The penalties for such theft are a fine of up to $ 2,000 and jail time of up to 180 days.

Class A Misdemeanor Theft

Theft involving things valued between $750 and less than $2,500 is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. However, even if the stolen property has a value of less than $750, a shoplifter who employs shielding or deactivating tools to commit the crime may still face the same charge. Such offenses carry penalties like a maximum sentence of one year and fines not exceeding $4,000.

State Jail Felony Theft

Fines for theft offenses that qualify as state prison felonies at a maximum of $10,000. Additionally, the perpetrator risks receiving a state prison sentence of 180 days to two years. In Texas, theft involving items with a value greater than $2,500 is a felony.

Third-Degree Felony Theft

Theft accusations involving items worth $30,000 to $150,000 qualify as third-degree felonies, which are punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and fines not exceeding $10,000.

Second-Degree Felony Theft

In Texas, theft prosecutions involving items worth more than $150,000 but less than $300,000 can result in fines of up to $10,000 and a sentence of two to twenty years in prison, depending on the circumstances.

First-Degree Felony Theft

The most severe stealing offense in Texas is a first-degree felony. Stealing anything worth $300,000 or more is a first-degree felony offense carrying a sentence of 5 to 99 years and fines not exceeding $10,000.

Key Takeaways

Various elements will determine whether or not the court will charge your theft offense as a misdemeanor or felony. Speaking with a skilled criminal defense lawyer is crucial to reviewing your choices and deciding how to fight the theft charge or what course of action may suit your case.

You may fight to ensure that law enforcement officers treat you fairly throughout your case and safeguard your rights and interests by hiring an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney.

Read As Well: Differences Between Theft And Breach Of Contract




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(682) 204-4066 We cannot receive pictures via text so please send those via email or hand deliver to our office.

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