Theft charges in Texas should be taken seriously. Even the most law abiding of citizens may do something that results in a theft charge. It may be tempting to take a plea deal to resolve the situation. This is not a good idea, as any type of criminal conviction on your record can have major consequences, depriving you of future opportunities and prospects.
Therefore, it is important to understand what the prosecution must prove to secure a theft conviction, and potential defenses to a theft charge. Texas law defines theft as the unlawful appropriation, or taking, of another person’s property with intent to permanently deprive the person of the item.
The prosecution must prove each element of theft to secure a conviction, and there are various defenses that may be used to disprove one of the elements. You may have taken the item intending to borrow it and return it later, meaning you did not intend to deprive the victim of it permanently.
Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where you take an item because someone else forced you to or threatened to harm you or your loved ones if you didn’t take it and give it to them. If these are the circumstances that resulted in your theft charge, you may have a potential defense of duress.
An honest mistake can be a valid defense
Sometimes people take an item honestly believing the item belongs to them. If this happened to you, the prosecution may not be able to prove the “intent” element necessary to secure a theft conviction. This is a common defense and may require evidence such as documentation you owned the item, or a credible witness who will testify they told you the item was yours.
Criminal defense attorneys are thoroughly familiar with what is necessary to prove a case. Each case is different, and an attorney can examine your specific circumstances and develop a strong defense strategy.