Experienced Fort Worth Theft Defense Attorneys
One of the most devastating convictions on a citizen’s criminal record is a conviction for a theft-related offense. Being convicted of theft results in a stigma from society and future employers that lasts a lifetime.
Have you been accused of a theft crime in Fort Worth or anywhere in Tarrant County, Texas?
The attorneys at Barnett Howard & Williams, are experienced at defending citizens accused of committing theft crimes. Our Fort Worth Theft Defense Attorneys have experience defending a wide range of different theft offenses from simple theft, to forgery and aggravated robbery.
Not all theft cases are the same. Each case rests on it’s own unique set of facts and circumstances. Sometimes, with multiple individual’s involved and unique circumstances, a trial may be required for a citizen to clear their name. It’s crucial that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney working with you in theft cases.
Fighters! – “I came to Barnett Howard and Williams with a case that attempted theft and fraud. It was a felony charge and I was so nervous about this case and wanted to find the right attorneys for the job. After meeting with three or four attorneys I set up a meeting with Mr. Williams – BEST choice I have made in a long time. When we finally took it to court his whole firm was there to either listen, help, or fight for me. And at the end of it all NOT Guilty is what we got and it was because of all the hard work he put into the case along with his firm. You get a full package with this firm. You really do!!!”J.R. - Theft Defense Client
From Shoplifting to Embezzlement | Theft Laws in Texas
Theft laws in Texas cover a wide range of different criminal offenses – not just theft. In addition, the Texas Penal Code classifies theft crimes differently based on the amount of the theft, the method of the theft, and whether the accused has any prior theft convictions. The potential punishment for the various theft offenses can range from a $500 fine to life in prison. The bottom line is that being charged with a theft-related crime can get very complicated and requires experienced and highly rated Fort Worth Theft Defense Attorneys to effectively defend those charged with these types of cases.
The non-exhaustive list below contains some of the various ways theft cases can be charged by the state:
Simple theft in Texas
Theft of goods or services under $100.00 is considered a class c misdemeanor. This means that a person can be fined up to $500.00, but doesn’t face jail time. The most common type of theft under this category is shoplifting.
In Texas, the theft of goods or services valued between $100.00 – $750.00 is a class B misdemeanor and a person faces up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2000.00 fine for this offense. The theft of goods or services valued between $750.00 – $2500.00 is a class A misdemeanor and a person faces up to 365 days in jail and up to a $4000.00 fine for this offense. Depending on the amount of goods, shoplifting can fit into this category as well.
The theft of goods or services valued between $2500.00 – $30,000.00 is a state jail felony offense and a person faces up to 2 years in a state jail facility and up to a $10,000 fine. Theft of goods or services valued between $30,000.00 and $150,000.00 is a 3rd degree felony and a person faces 2 – 10 years in the penitentiary and up to a $10,000.00 fine. The theft of goods or services valued between $150,000.00 and $300,000.00 is a 2nd degree felony and a person faces up to 2 – 20 years in the penitentiary and up to a $10,000.00 fine. If a person is convicted of theft greater than $300,000.00, then they face 5 – 99 years in prison and up to a $10,000.00 fine. All of these offenses can also be enhanced if a person has a prior criminal record.
Credit/debit card abuse
One of the most common types of identity theft charges in Texas is credit/debit card abuse. A person can be charged with credit or debit card abuse in a number of different ways (from using, to presenting or simply possessing another’s credit or debit card). A person convicted of credit or debit card abuse faces 2 – 10 years in the penitentiary and up to a $10,000.00 fine.
Issuance of a Bad Check
Another common offense related to theft in Texas is issuance of a bad check, otherwise known as a “hot check.”
Theft by way of forgery can mean anything from making a false writing to altering an existing document. The many different ways that the State can charge the offense of forgery means that you need an experience and top rated fort worth defense lawyer to aid in your defense if you are charged with forgery. The punishment for forgery can range from a class A misdemeanor to a second degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in the Texas Department of Corrections.
Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle
A person commits an offense of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle if that person intentionally or knowingly operates another’s boat, airplane, or motor-propelled vehicle without the effective consent of its owner. A person who is convicted of this offense could face a minimum of 180 days in a State Jail Facility up to 2 years in a State Jail Facility and up to a $10,000.00 fine.
Burglary is simply breaking into a habitation, building or vehicle with the intent to commit a theft or other felony. Texas divides burglary into three primary categories: either a burglary of a habitation, a burglary of a building or burglary of a vehicle. Each of these categories carries their own set punishment ranges. Punishments for burglary can range from a class a misdemeanor up to 99 years or life in prison.
If a person causes injury to a person while in the midst of committing a theft, that person could be convicted of robbery. In general, robbery is a second-degree felony. But, if the victim suffers serious bodily injury, the State can increase the case to a first-degree felony and a person could face up to 99 years or life in prison.
Keep in mind, state prosecutors will often charge defendants with more than one of the above crimes. In fact, simple theft offenses are typically “lesser included offenses” of the more serious crimes listed toward the bottom of the list. In many instances, the potential penalty will include the possibility of probation or deferred adjudication. Also, there may be instances where alternative remedies can be agreed. The lawyers at Barnett Howard and Williams strive to fight for the best possible outcome for our clients charged with theft cases – and sometimes, that means that trial is required.
A pile-on mentality – The Texas Theft Liability Act
Under the Texas Theft Liability Act, in addition to criminal penalties for committing a theft, a person could also be made to pay for the actual damages that resulted from the theft up to $1000.00. To the victim of a theft crime this seems fair and appropriate. Unfortunately, large corporations take advantage of this act and typically seek damages from individual’s accused of theft from their stores even if they sustained no real damages. Typically, a person arrested for shoplifting will received a demand letter from one of these stores demanding that they pay money to the corporation. To add insult to injury, these letters usually ask for more than the amount of goods that were at issue in the theft.
The lawyers at Barnett Howard and Williams are experienced and familiar with the Texas Theft Liability Act and can help you understand what you need to do if you receive one of these letters.
Enhancing Thefts | Fort Worth Theft Defense Attorneys
The legislature in Texas made the offense of theft enhanceable. What does that mean? That means that upon each subsequent conviction for theft, the level and punishment range for theft can be increased. If a person has two or more prior convictions for theft, then their case can be increased to a State Jail felony even if the theft would typically be charged at the misdemeanor level. For example, a person who commits a theft in the amount of $100.00 could potentially face 2 years confinement in a State Jail facility and up to a $10,000.00 fine if they have two previous convictions for theft.
Why go to trial on a Theft case? | Defense Attorneys for Theft and Shoplifting
A theft conviction, even a minor charge, stays with a person for the rest of their life. That’s why every theft case must be taken seriously by an experienced and top rated criminal defense lawyer. Each case is different and has it’s own unique set of facts and circumstances. Regardless of the facts and circumstance of your case, in a Theft case, the State always has the burden to prove each and every element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes, the circumstances may not look good, but that doesn’t mean that a person committed a crime. The top-rated Fort Worth attorneys at Barnett Howard & Williams take pride in holding the State to their burden. We believe that the integrity of our justice system can only be upheld by making the State prove their case, and if they can’t then it’s a jury’s job to find our clients “not guilty”.
If you’re facing prosecution for a theft offense in Tarrant County, we offer free consultations and would love the opportunity to sit with you and show you how the attorneys at Barnett Howard and Williams can help.