If you are facing theft charges in Texas, there are many defenses a qualified attorney may be able to use to fight your charges. In this post, we’ll detail the various strategies that may work in your case.
Texas Theft Charge Defenses
Theft is defined by Texas law as permanently depriving someone of the possession of property without express permission.
Here are several defenses that may work, depending on the specific circumstances of your case.
If you honestly believed that the property belonged to you at the time the incident occurred, and you can provide evidence proving your case, this defense may work for you.
This may work if you borrowed the item but forgot to return it. It may also work if you accidently left an item in your purse or shopping bag. Since intent is a key element in theft cases, you cannot be convicted if you had no intent of stealing.
Usually this defense will not allow charges to be dismissed. However, if you returned the stolen property, the judge may be more sympathetic to you than if you had kept it. You may receive a reduced sentence if your lawyer uses this as part of your defense.
Lack of False Pretenses
This only applies to specific types of theft, but it can be valuable.
If you have been accused of misrepresenting yourself to commit theft, but no evidence supports that idea, your charges can be dropped.
If someone used you as a victim to commit theft with the goal of getting you arrested and prosecuted, your attorney may be able to effectively argue an entrapment defense.
If you were forced to commit theft under threat of harm to you or your family, you can use the duress defense.
Certain defenses exist for specific forms of theft in Texas. For example, if you are accused of tampering with serial numbers, you can use the following defenses:
- The property owner gave consent to the changes
- You were a peace officer acting within the scope of your duties
- You were an employee or agent of the Texas Department of Transportation or Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and acting within the scope of your duties in full compliance of department rules
Another specific form of theft defense relates to vehicle rental violations. If you have been accused of stealing a rental vehicle, this defense is permitted under the law:
- You provided a post-dated check or similar sight order to pay for the vehicle rental, and the rental company presented the check or sight order for payment prior to the date on the check or sight order.
Other offense-specific defenses may exist for your case. Check with an experienced criminal defense attorney to know what specific defenses may qualify.
Why You Need a Strong Defense against Texas Theft Charges
A theft conviction can have serious consequences, depending on the total value of the items you are accused of stealing. The lowest charge is a Class C misdemeanor with a $500 fine. But an offense involving items valued at $2,500 or more will result in felony charges, which involve prison sentencing and fines as high as $10,000.
A knowledgeable Texas criminal attorney will be able to help you fight your charges with an aggressive defense strategy. Beyond the associated criminal penalties, a conviction could also hurt your ability to get a job, secure a loan, and more in the future. It could also enhance the sentencing for any future crimes you may commit. That’s why it’s important to seek legal assistance now. Call an experienced attorney today for a free evaluation.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.