In Texas, theft becomes a felony when a specific object was taken, the property was valued at $2,500 or more, or the alleged offender has prior theft convictions. Absent these criteria, the offense is charged as a misdemeanor.
Now, Texas does not just classify crimes as simply misdemeanors or felonies. Instead, it has different grades of each. The more serious the crime, the higher the class (for misdemeanors) or degree (for felonies) of the offense. Because this blog is concerned with felony theft in Texas, we will only elaborate on the situations in which the degree increases at this level.
State Jail Felony Theft
The lowest degree of felony in Texas is a state jail felony. Even though it's considered the "lowest," that does not mean it is not a serious offense. It may not be as severe as third-, second-, or first-degree felonies, but it can still result in incarceration and/or fines. The conviction penalties for a state jail felony include between 180 days and 2 years in state jail.
Theft is a state jail felony when property:
- Is valued at $2,500 or more but less than $30,000;
- Is taken from a person or grave (In this case, the value does not matter. Even if the property was worth less than $2,500, the offense is felony theft.);
- Is a firearm;
- Is valued at less than $2,500 and the defendant was previously convicted two or more times of theft;
- Is an official ballot; or
- Is a metal valued at less than $20,000
Third-Degree Felony Theft
When charged as a third-degree felony, theft can result in a prison term between 2 and 10 years. It can also lead to a fine of up to $10,000.
Theft becomes a third-degree felony when the property:
- Is worth $30,000 or more but less than $150,000;
- Is a controlled substance taken from a commercial building or vehicle owned or operated by an authorized manufacturer or distributor; or
- Is 10 or more sheep, swine, or goats worth less than $150,000
Second-Degree Felony Theft
In Texas, a conviction for a second-degree felony can result in imprisonment for up to 20 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
There are two instances in which theft is a second-degree felony:
- The property was worth $150,000 or more but less than $300,000; or
- The property was an ATM or its contents or components
First-Degree Felony Theft
The most serious theft crimes are charged as first-degree felonies. This is one of the highest grades of felonies in Texas (second only to capital felonies). If a person is found guilty, the court may imprison them for anywhere from 5 to 99 years. It may also impose a fine of up to $10,000.
Under Texas law, the one situation in which theft is a first-degree felony is when the property is valued at $300,000 or more.
Being charged with a theft crime – regardless of whether it's a felony or misdemeanor – can be scary. A conviction can have serious repercussions that include not only incarceration and/or fines but also a ruined reputation and strained personal and professional relationships.
If you've been accused of taking another's property in Dallas, reach out to Hamilton Grant PC by calling (214) 225-7117 or submitting an online contact form. We will work hard toward a favorable result on your behalf.