Criminal Defense

Theft in Texas

Posted by on Oct 27, 2014 in Criminal Defense

There are many kinds of theft under Texas law, and even under the same kind there are different levels that dictate the kind of punishment that a convicted defendant will have to face. For example, identity theft is one type of theft if it leads to the use of identifying information to get something of value, but it is not a physical object as we normally associate with thievery. The same goes for copyright or piracy crimes.

By definition under the Texas Penal Code (Ann. § 31.03), theft is the unlawful appropriation of property with the intention to take it away permanently from the owner (paraphrased). In layman terms, you have committed theft if you take something that isn’t rightfully yours without planning to give it back without the consent of the owner or without any acceptable justification under the law. There are fine shades to this definition as competent Austin criminal defense lawyers will be quick to detect but which may not be apparent to the untrained eye, which is the reason why it is advisable to consult with a criminal defense lawyer when charged with any crime.

Basically, the severity of an offense is directly proportionate to the financial value of the property or service that was appropriated but in some instances may also be based on the type of property taken. Below are some of the general classifications and criminal consequences for theft in Texas.

  • Less than $50 – Class C misdemeanor, fine up to $500, no jail time
  • More than $50 but less than $500 or property stolen was an identity card i.e. driver’s license – Class B misdemeanor, fine up to $2,000 and/or jail time up to 180 days
  • $500 or more but less than $1,500 – Class A misdemeanor, fine up to $4,000 and/or jail time up to one year
  • $1,500 or more but less than $20,000 or certain property such as livestock or firearms valued at less than $20,000 – state jail felony, fine up to $10,000 and/or minimum jail time of 180 days but no more than 2 years
  • $20,000 or more but less than $100,000 or certain property such livestock or firearms valued at less than $100,000 – Third degree felony, fine up to $10,000 and/or jail time of two to 10 years
  • $100,000 or more but less than $200,000 – Second degree felony, fine up to $10,000 and/or jail time of two to 20 years
  • $200,000 or more – First degree felony, fine up to $10,000 and/or jail time of five to 99 years

In addition to criminal penalties, a convicted defendant may also be held civilly liable under the Texas Theft Liability Act.

If you are being charged with theft, don’t try to sweet talk your way out of it because anything you say can be used against you. Seek the advice of a criminal defense lawyer in your area before making any moves.

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Proving the Case: Going Beyond the Law

Posted by on Nov 24, 2013 in Criminal Defense

Knowing and proving are often two different things. One may know the law but may not be able to prove its relevance in a particular case. In the US, the prosecution has the burden of proof in a criminal or civil charge. All the criminal defense lawyer has to do is to disprove the evidence against the defendant, or to introduce reasonable doubt.

In jurisprudence, the reasonable doubt standard in the jury system is actually instructions to members of that jury that as reasonable people they must believe in the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. This may seem like a very vague and highly subjective standard, which is why in most cases brought before the jury or judge, it is important that the lawyer on either side is able to present their arguments persuasively and convincingly. It is not enough that the lawyer knows the law and how it applies to a case; the jury or the judge must understand and see it in the same way as well. This is not to say that lawyers have to deliberately mislead; rather, they need to be able to make the jury members or judge see the case from a particular perspective.

While perhaps not as dramatically portrayed as on television, in a real court case the bare facts of the case in point can take on a radically different meaning depending on how it is presented. The defense lawyer has to be able to find a plausible explanation for the facts as they appear to the advantage of the defendant. This is not to say that the prosecution’s interpretation of it is wrong; it merely suggests that another explanation is possible. And this introduces reasonable doubt. In a court case, it is important that the lawyer establishes a relationship with the client, the jury and the court officers in order to determine the right approach to a particular case. As pointed out by a co-counsel of Bryan Bleibdrey on the website of The Woodlands based BB Law Group PLLC, his interaction with the client and his cross examination of witnesses helped to prove the case in point.

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