Were you arrested for theft in Fort Worth, Texas? Theft is the most common criminal offense that is prosecuted in Tarrant County criminal courts. The said offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the property’s value. If you were arrested for theft, you need to consult a highly skilled Fort Worth criminal defense attorney immediately.
The reason for this is that time is undoubted of the essence. Meaning, the sooner an attorney can investigate an allegation, the sooner your attorney can locate evidence like eyewitnesses and video footage. Moreover, the District Attorney’s Office likes to proceed to criminal prosecution quickly. Many misdemeanor cases reach trial in as little as 90 – 180 days. As such, it is imperative to contact an attorney as soon as possible to allow a comprehensive preparation of your case. Finally, the earlier you can negotiate with the District Attorney’s Office, the better. The prosecutor is more amenable to a favorable plea bargain or diversion if you present a compelling argument early on.
Importantly, I used to be an Assistant District Attorney in Tarrant County. As a result, I experienced first-hand how the District Attorney’s Office operates, including how the prosecutors evaluate cases for diversion or plea consideration, gather evidence, and common prosecution theories used in theft cases. When I opened my boutique criminal defense firm, the Fulgham Law Firm, I combined my knowledge of criminal litigation and court practices with my passion for criminal justice. Over the years, my law firm’s expertise and knowledge grew by the addition of 5 Former Prosecutors that have a combined experience of over 80 years and hundreds of jury trials.
In every case, it is my goal to fully devote myself to meeting a client’s goals by fighting for their best interests and rights. If you were charged with theft in Fort Worth, you could go the easy route and use court-appointed counsel. Court-appointed counsel is often over-burdened and lacks crucial legal resources. In addition, the court usually orders that client to make payments to the court to repay the costs of court-appointed counsel.
With the Fulgham Law Firm, you can rest assured that our team of criminal defense attorneys are thinking critically about the facts, devoting their full attention to your case, and tailoring our representation to your goals and needs. Call the Fulgham Law Firm at (817) 886-3078 today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your theft case further.
Types of Thefts in Fort Worth
Texas Penal Code §31.03 governs theft, defined as the unlawful taking of another’s property. Keep in mind that taking someone else’s belongings becomes unlawful when one intends to deprive the rightful owner of their belongings.
Theft is known as a property crime and comes in many different formats. Common types of theft include:
- Felony theft
- Auto Theft
- Misdemeanor Theft
Penalties for Theft
Theft can be a Texas misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the taken property. Misdemeanors in Texas are punishable anywhere from just a fine to up to one year in Tarrant County Jail. Felonies in Texas are punishable anywhere from two years to life in prison.
- Theft under $100: Class C misdemeanor
- Theft between $100 and $750: Class B misdemeanor
- Theft between $750 and $2,500: Class A misdemeanor
- Theft between $2,500 and $30,000: State jail felony
- Theft between $30,000 and $150,000: Third-degree felony
- Theft between $150,000 and $300,000: Second-degree felony
- Theft over $300,000: First-degree felony
How Does the Government Prove Theft?
The prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you intentionally or knowingly took property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner, without the owner’s consent.
How do you prove intent? Some evidence of intent to permanently deprive someone of their property can be inferred by breaking or prying windows or doors with the lock intact; pulling on doors with windows broken; tearing down iron bars from inside a building without having been seen by anyone outside.
The best argument for there being a lack of intent is to argue that the taking was an accident or mistake. This happens frequently with shoplifting cases. Someone goes through a self-checkout line and pays for all the items in their basked but forgets the $100 bag of dog food on the bottom of the basket. There is a strong argument that this was an accident or mistake. Any doubt that can be raised regarding the criminal intent of the accused can provide a criminal defense attorney the opportunity to possibly receive a theft dismissal.
What’s the Difference Between Theft and Shoplifting in Texas?
Although the terms are different, the crimes of Theft and Shoplifting define the same act according to Texas law. Theft and shoplifting are both punished in Texas when a person takes property from a merchant with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of their property.
What Happens When I Get Arrested for a Shoplifting or Theft Crime?
Once arrested for the crime of theft or shoplifting, you will be transported to the county jail, processed by the magistrate judge and given a bond. During this time, the police then investigate the situation, including your arrest, whether the alleged theft crime can be proven, and collect evidence at the scene. They will call witnesses to see what they can corroborate about your guilt or innocence.
In some cases of retail theft, it is discovered that theft has occurred when patrons enter a store with large shopping bags filled with items from other stores nearby, approach clerks without paying attention to whether there is someone nearby who might be watching, make small purchases but refuse to pay for them after getting some change back, distribute something to other people in the store, and fail to return merchandise.
Suppose you are arrested for theft or shoplifting over $100. In that case, the police will probably take fingerprints, pictures of tattoos, or marks, ask about your background, including family life, work history, educational experience, medical history, and psychiatric history.
The goal of this investigation is to determine if there is probable cause that you committed a crime.
What Can I Do if I Am Sued for Theft?
You should consult with an experienced Fort Worth criminal defense attorney to help defend you against the allegation. You may be able to negotiate with the merchant to drop the civil complaint. If that doesn’t work, then you should consult with a criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth to defend your rights and freedom against theft allegations.
Do I Need an Attorney to Fight My Theft Charge?
Yes, if you have been accused of theft, hiring a Fort Worth Criminal Lawyer who specializes in defending your charge is necessary. The Fulgham Law Firm offers a boutique criminal practice that passionately and aggressively defends the accused. Let us help you fight theft charges.
The Fulgham law firm is a team of experienced and aggressive former prosecutors offering representation to those facing criminal charges – including theft – here in Fort Worth, Texas. Attorney Mr. Fulgham handles all charges involving property crimes such as burglary, theft, or robbery in the North Fort Worth area along with other property offenses south of the Trinity River and Northeast Fort Worth areas, including Weatherford Highway but not limited to those areas listed above.
How Can a Fort Worth Theft & Shoplifting Lawyer Help Me?
The attorneys at the Fulgham Law Firm provide aggressive, forthright representation to those accused of shoplifting or theft crimes throughout Tarrant County and the surrounding areas, including Fort Worth, Weatherford, Southlake Denton, and Arlington.
We have been providing legal services to our clients for almost 20 years. Our team consists of experienced professionals who know what it takes to get the job done right! In addition, we treat our clients like family from day one. When working with us, you will get personalized attention and will never be shipped off to just another attorney. We believe that you should always have access to your Criminal Defense Attorney as much as possible.
Our firm offers a free case evaluation where we review your case report, discuss the facts of your case, and provide you with an honest assessment of your legal options moving forward.
We know how overwhelming these situations can be for our clients and their loved ones, which is why we take the time to fully understand all aspects of your case before providing any specific advice or recommendations.
You’ll receive a complete explanation of what we think the best course of action would be moving forward at no cost or obligation. If you’re interested in speaking with us about the details surrounding your shoplifting arrest, then contact us today!
Defenses to Theft
The defense available for your case will depend on the unique facts and circumstances surrounding your arrest. However, common defenses to theft include:
- Accident or mistake – The defendant was not fully aware of their actions when committing the crime. For example, a person may have accidentally left a store without paying for an item, not knowing the store’s policy.
- Incapacity – The defendant was not capable of understanding right from wrong or complying with the law. For example, a person who is intellectually disabled may fall under this category.
- Lack of intent to deprive – The defendant did not intend to steal items but instead possessed the intention to carry out a different action. For example, a person may have entered a store planning to pay for an item but was distracted when the cashier was tied up.
- Mistake of fact – The defendant thought specific points were confirmed when in fact, they were not. For example, a person may have considered that an item was free because it was advertised, even though signs often contain fine print disclaimers.
- Property owner’s consent – The defendant had permission from the property owner to possess or take the items in question. For example, a person may have borrowed an item from a friend with implicit permission to use it for an extended period.
- Item was paid for – The defendant already paid for the item in question, but it was stolen from them.
- Item belongs to you – The defendant was only in possession of the item because it belongs to them. For example, a person may have received a thing as a gift, or an item may have been taken from a relative’s home but mistaken as stolen.
- Mistaken identity – The defendant was not the person who committed the offense. For example, someone else stole the item, but another individual was mistaken as the offender.
- Abandonment – An item can be proven to be abandoned before another party took the object. However, taking the item was mistaken as theft, although the owner intended to leave the object. For example, a person may have tried to give an item back to a store, but the employee refused it, and the person left the store to avoid conflict, leaving the object that another person then took.
Contact a Skilled Fort Worth Theft Defense Lawyer Today About Your Case!
At the Fulgham Law Firm, you will find a boutique Fort Worth criminal defense practice focused on passionately and aggressively defending the accused. Whether you were wrongfully arrested or made a mistake, the Fulgham Law Firm can assist you with fighting accusations of theft. Call (817) 886-3078 today to learn more about your legal options.
Call us right now to get help.
We’ve helped hundreds of people in Texas, and we can help you too. We’ll set you up with a free conversation with Mr. Fulgham, which will help you know what to do next. The Fulgham Law Firm serves Fort Worth and Tarrant county areas.