Degrees of Theft

Theft occurs when a person takes something that does not belong to him or her without permission. This person neither compensates the owner nor has the intention to return the stolen item, which makes the action a criminal offense.

Typically, the punishment for theft depends on the value of the stolen items as well as the thief’s prior criminal history, especially related to theft convictions. Depending on these circumstances, theft may be a misdemeanor or criminal offense.

Types of Theft

Theft is often used as a blanket term to describe a number of acts related to an individual taking another person’s property unlawfully. Some types of theft are treated as their own crimes while others are just specific types of theft.

The most common types of theft are:

  • Shoplifting
  • Car theft
  • Identity theft
  • Robbery
  • Looting

The punishment for these crimes depends on a number of circumstances.

Punishments for Theft

Most often, punishment for theft is broken down by the value of the stolen goods. In Texas, for example, the levels of theft are:

  • $50 or less
  • $50 – $500
  • $500 – $1500
  • $1500 – $20,000
  • $20,000 – $100,000
  • $100,000 – $200,000
  • $200,000 or more

These specific crimes range from a Class C misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. This means that punishment ranges from a $500 fine to life in prison.

Additional factors, such as the use of force or weapons, may increase the severity of the crime. As such, a theft of $50 may go from being a Class C misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, which aggravated robbery is a felony offense.

It is important to note that theft levels and punishments vary by state, but most states follow a similar model to the previous example.

Contact Us

If you have been charged with theft, experienced legal defense can help keep you out of prison or help you receive a lesser sentence. Contact the Dallas criminal defense lawyer of the Law Office of Mark T. Lassiter, P.C., at (214) 845-7007 to learn more.


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