Theft Crimes

Texas uses their theft statute as a blanket description for a multitude of crimes. A theft offense can range from shoplifting a convenience store to embezzling millions from a company. Theft allegations can also lead to serious consequences such as costly fines and even incarceration.

The statutory penalties aren’t the only thing you should be wary of. If you’re convicted of theft, you’ll have a criminal record. Employers and educational institutions will be able to access your charges through a simple background check. You may have problems gaining employment, keeping your current job or applying for housing.

If you or someone you know has been charged with theft, it’s imperative you find legal representation.

Attorney for Theft in Houston, Texas

Have you been accused of theft? Are you unsure on what your next move is? If so, it’s imperative you gain trusted legal representation. Your attorney can fight for your rights in the courtroom. They can also inform you of all your available legal options.

Tyler Flood & Associates, Inc. is a group of respected attorneys who are passionate about criminal defense. Our attorneys use their extensive resources and experience to help you obtain the best possible result for your case. Have some peace of mind today and call Tyler Flood & Associates, Inc..

You can contact us at (713) 224-5529 to schedule a consultation. We accept clients throughout the greater Harris County area including Houston, Magnolia Park, Pasadena and River Oaks.

Overview of Theft in Texas

What is Theft in Texas?

Theft serves as an umbrella term for various offenses. The crime can be as simple as petty theft, but it can also be as complicated as intricate swindling schemes. Texas Penal Code § 31.03 states you are guilty of theft if you unlawfully take another person’s property intentionally to deprive them of that property.

Texas considers the taking of another person’s property unlawful if you:

  • Didn’t have consent of the owner to take the property;
  • Possessed the property with the knowledge it was stolen; or
  • The property was taken from law enforcement without authorization

In Texas, it’s not a valid defense in court to take another person’s property because:

  • You were given an opportunity to commit the offense by law enforcement;
  • Law enforcement used deception such as undercover officers; or
  • You were solicited to commit theft unknowingly by law enforcement and their solicitation encouraged you to commit the offense

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Types of Theft in Texas

When you hear the word “theft” you probably think of someone stealing from a merchant. While larceny from retail establishments is common, theft can also be applied to other offenses. Some of these can include writing bad checks or the absence of services.

Listed below are some offenses that are considered theft in Texas.

  • Shoplifting
  • Grand theft
  • Theft of services
  • Theft by false pretext
  • Theft of trade secrets
  • Extortion
  • Embezzlement
  • Swindling
  • Swindling with a worthless check
  • Acquiring property through threats
  • Possessing embezzled property
  • Possessing stolen property

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How Much Jail Time Can You Get for Theft?

Since theft is such broad offense, the sentencing differs on a case-by-case basis. You could face up to felony charges for a theft offense based on the severity. Nearly all charges include fines, possible incarceration, and can sometimes require restitution.

Listed below are the possible consequences for committing theft in Texas.

Level of Offense Fine Jail or Prison Time

Class C Misdemeanor



Class B Misdemeanor


Up to 180 days in jail

Class A Misdemeanor


Up to 12 months in jail

State Jail Felony


Up to 24 months in state jail

Third-Degree Felony


Up to 10 years in prison

Second-Degree Felony


Up to 20 years in prison

First-Degree Felony $10,000

Minimum of 5 years and maximum of life in prison


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What is the Penalty for Theft in Texas?

The penalties for theft depend on the value of the property stolen. This includes non-tangible goods such as services since they are also considered property under Texas law. Texas determines value by the fair market value of the stolen property, or the replacement costs to repair the property. If the court is unable to discover the fair market value of the item, then it will be deemed more than $750, but less than $2,500.

Listed below are the penalties for committing theft in Texas.

  • Theft is a class C misdemeanor when:
    • The stolen property is valued at less than $100
  • Theft is a class B misdemeanor when:
    • The stolen property is valued at $100 or more, but less than $750;
    • The property stolen is a personal identification certificate, a driver’s license or a commercial driver’s license; or
    • The value of the property was less than $100, but you a prior theft conviction.
  • Theft is a class A misdemeanor when:
    • The property taken is at $750 or more, but less than $2,500
  • Theft is a state jail felony when:
    • The stolen property is at $2,500 or more, but less than $30,000;
    • The property taken is less than $2,500, but you have two previous convictions of theft on your record;
    • The stolen property is a firearm;
    • The property was taken from a human corpse or grave, including property found at a military grave marker;
    • The stolen property is less than 10 heads of swine, sheep or goats or a combination under the value of $30,000;
    • The property taken is an official carrier envelope for an election or an official ballot for an election;
    • The stolen property is copper wire, aluminum, bronze valued at less than $20,000; or
    • The property is rods, water gate stems, or tubing valued at less than $20,000
  • Theft is a third-degree felony when:
    • The value of the property stolen is at $30,000 or more, but less than $150,000;
    • The property taken in a single transaction is cattle, horses or exotic fowl or livestock with a value of less than $150,000;
    • The property taken in a single transaction is 10 or more heads of swine, sheep or goats with a value of less than $150,000;
    • The property stolen is controlled substances from a commercial building or vehicle in which prescription drugs are stored. The controlled substances stolen must have a value of less than $150,000
  • Theft is a second-degree felony when:
    • The value of the property stolen is at $150,00 or more, but less than $30,000; or
    • The offender stolen less than $30,000 from an automated teller machine (ATM)
  • Theft is a first-degree felony when:
    • The property stolen is at $300,000 or more

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Aggravated Theft in Texas

If certain factors are present during the crime, your penalties may be enhanced. These are referred to as aggravating factors and they can reclassify your offense up one degree. For example, if you were charged with a class C misdemeanor but an aggravating factor was present during the crime, your charges will be elevated to a class B misdemeanor.

Texas Penal Code § 31.03(f) lists the following as aggravating factors:

  • You are a public servant and stole the property through your status as a servant;
  • You were a part of a contractual relationship with government and stole property by virtue of that contractual relationship;
  • The property was taken was from a nonprofit organization;
  • The property was stolen from an elderly person;
  • You were a Medicare provider in a contractual relationship with the government and stole property by virtue of that contractual relationship;
  • You used a shield or deactivation instrument to steal the property; or
  • You deactivated or prevented a fire exit alarm or retail theft detector

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Additional Resources

Texas Theft Statute – Visit the official website for Texas Legislation to learn more about theft offenses. Access the statutes to find more information about theft of service, theft or trade secrets, unauthorized use of a vehicle and other related offenses.

HPD Burglary and Theft Division – Visit the official website of the Houston Police Department (HPD) to learn more about their burglary and theft division. Find more information about their separate units and details such as crime analysis, financial crimes, metal theft, pawn detail and stolen precious metals.

Lawyer for Theft Offenses in Harris County, Texas

If you or someone you know has been charged with larceny, it’s imperative you contact a criminal defense attorney. You will need legal representation to effectively fight these charges. Contact the attorneys at Tyler Flood & Associates, Inc. to start your defense plan today.

Our attorneys at Tyler Flood & Associates, Inc. excel at representing people accused of theft. We pride ourselves on our quality legal service and positive track record. The attorneys at Tyler Flood & Associates, Inc. will utilize their skills and resources to create a strong defense for you. Call now at (713) 224-5529 to schedule a case evaluation.

We accept clients throughout the greater Houston area including Bellaire, Pasadena, River Oaks and West University Place.

This article was last updated on March 7th, 2019.


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