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What’s the Difference Between Theft and Robbery in Texas?

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The FBI’s Crime Clock says that a theft crime happens about every 5.7 seconds across the nation. These startling statistics remind us that while the overall crime rate has decreased over the past few decades, theft crimes remain one of the most commonly committed crimes.

From shoplifting a candy bar to holding up a bank at gunpoint, there’s a whole host of different actions that could be defined as either theft or robbery in Texas. Were you arrested and charged with either theft or robbery? If so, then it’s important to know the differences between the two.

Learn everything you need to know about how Texas law defines theft and robbery, the penalties for both crimes and your potential legal defenses below.

Defining Theft Crimes

On the surface, theft is a straightforward crime to define. It encompasses any act of intentionally taking someone else’s property without their knowledge or consent. You also must have no intention of returning the property.

Despite the simplistic definition, there’s a lot of different actions that constitute theft according to Texas law. Here are a few examples:

  • Shoplifting from a business
  • Theft by false pretext
  • Embezzlement
  • Extortion

Someone can be charged with theft even if they were not the person who originally stole the property. If you knowingly accept stolen goods, then you could get charged with a theft crime.

If you get charged with theft in Texas, then the severity of your offense will hinge on the overall value of the stolen items. If the property or services were worth less than $50, then you’ll get charged with a Class C misdemeanor. The highest level of theft, which involves property worth over $200,000, is considered a first-degree felony.

Were you accused of theft? Attorney Brett Podolsky can help »

Legal Penalties for Committing Theft in Texas

Depending on what you were charged with, you could be facing serious time behind bars for your theft crime. Here is an overview of the maximum penalties associated with the various theft crime levels:

  • Class C Misdemeanor Theft: No jail time, fine $500
  • Class B Misdemeanor Theft: 180-days jail time, fine $2,000
  • Class A Misdemeanor Theft: one-year jail time, fine $4,000
  • State Jail Felony Theft: two-years jail time, fine $10,000
  • Third-degree felony: ten-years jail time, fine $10,000
  • Second-degree felony: 20-years jail time, fine $10,000
  • First-degree felony: 99-years jail time, fine $10,000

Keep in mind that if you’re convicted of a felony, then you’ll face more penalties once you’re released from jail. You may be required to serve time on probation, and you won’t be able to carry a firearm right away. You also won’t get an opportunity to vote.

There are also other factors that could increase the potential penalties you’re facing. If you’ve been convicted of a theft crime in the past, then courts may decide to increase your current theft level charges.

You’ll also be penalized more severely if you committed the crime while working as a government official or public servant. Courts in Texas will also increase your theft level if you committed the offense against an elderly citizen.

Defining Robbery

Robbery is another type of crime that happens during a theft or attempted theft. This type of crime happens when the perpetrator knowingly, intentionally or recklessly:

  • Causes bodily injury to another person
  • Puts another person in fear of injury or death

In other words, the suspect either hurts or threatens to hurt the theft victim while attempting to take their property away. You could also get charged with robbery if you hurt or threaten to hurt another bystander while trying to get away with stolen goods.

Were you accused of displaying a firearm during the robbery? Was someone severely injured? If so, then your charges will be increased even more. You could get hit with an aggravated robbery charge, which comes with even more significant penalties.

Legal Penalties for Committing a Robbery in Texas

 Robbery, especially when it’s aggravated, is a serious offense to commit in Texas. Your actions won’t be taken lightly by the court. Here’s what you can expect if you’re charged with robbery, which is considered a second-degree felony:

  • Prison time: 2-20 years
  • Fines: Up to $10,000

If you were slapped with an aggravated robbery charge, then your actions are considered a first-degree felony. That means a Texas court could sentence you to:

  • Serve prison time: 5-99 years
  • Pay Fines: Up to $10,000

Robbery charges are not something you want to face in court. Both charges are felony offenses, which means you’ll face certain limitations even after serving your sentence if you’re convicted.

You’ll lose your right to carry a firearm, and you won’t be eligible to apply to vote. Both rights can potentially be restored, but you’ll have to jump through several legal hurdles to get them back. They will be taken away after a felony conviction.

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Potential Defenses to Theft and Robbery Charges

Have you or a loved one been charged with theft or robbery in Texas? If so, then you’re likely wondering how to defend yourself against the charges. Remember, you’re considered innocent unless the prosecutor can prove without a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime.

Here are some of the most common successful defense strategies you can use against theft and robbery charges:

  • Mistake of fact (the property is yours or you didn’t commit the crime)
  • Intoxication
  • Proving that you intended to return the property
  • Lack of intent
  • Duress

It’s also an acceptable strategy to accept a plea deal in exchange for a reduced charge. You’ll only want to do this if you know the police have a lot of evidence against you.

There is a wide range of defense strategies available to you if you’ve been charged with theft or robbery in Texas. To determine which legal strategy is best for you, you’ll need to consider the specific circumstances surrounding the incident and your arrest. You’ll also need to carefully consider the evidence that authorities have against you. An attorney can help.

Should I Hire an Attorney if I’m Arrested in Texas?

The penalties for both theft and robbery include a temporary loss of freedom. If you’re like most of us, then jail is the last place you want to be. If you get arrested and accused of theft or robbery, then don’t take a chance trying to represent yourself in court.

Instead, utilize your constitutional right to hire legal representation. A good attorney will analyze the specific details surrounding the incident and your arrest. After looking at all the evidence from both sides, your lawyer can help you determine which legal defense strategy will lead to the best outcome.

Reach out to our office now to learn more about how we can help.

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