Theft charges range in severity in Texas, with the state classifying the most minor of charges as misdemeanors and the most severe of charges as felonies. If you receive theft charges, you do not want to risk that the state will charge you with a more serious offense.
Theft charges do not automatically equate to a conviction. Several defenses may apply to your case that can help you to either reduce the charges against you or eliminate them entirely. FindLaw explores the possible defenses to theft charges in Texas.
What constitutes theft in Texas
To better understand how possible defenses can work in your favor, it is important to first understand what constitutes theft in Texas. Theft — otherwise known as larceny — occurs when one person takes property from the rightful owner with the intent to deprive said owner of said property.
In Texas, theft can occur indirectly. For instance, the state may charge you with theft if you accept property that you know was stolen. You may also commit theft if you fail to perform an affirmative action that proves that an item you either purchase or receive as a gift is not, in fact, stolen property. An example of affirmative action is acquiring a properly executed certificate of title for a newly purchased vehicle.
Possible defenses to theft in Texas
Though which defense you go with depends on the circumstances leading up to and surrounding your charges, some defenses are more common than others because of their effectiveness. Those are as follows:
- Mistake of fact
- Lack of intent
- Age (Though being a minor is not a complete defense, your age may help to reduce the potential penalties.)
Entrapment is not a defense to theft in Texas. If a police officer or other authority figure solicits theft and you accept the opportunity, the state may still find you guilty of theft.
A theft conviction can come with hefty fines and jail time. To avoid severe and adverse outcomes, you should not attempt to fight theft charges on your own.