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How Do the New Theft Laws Affect Criminal Penalties in Texas?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Frisco theft defense attorney

While some might argue that theft is not a major concern in Texas, the truth is that lawmakers and, consequently, law enforcement over the last year have been focusing more of their efforts on this crime. At the least, depending on where you live in Texas, the local governments have been redefining and reforming how theft is treated overall. The point is, if you are accused of theft in Texas, you should be prepared for an unexpected outcome. The legal system in Texas may not just give you a "slap on the wrist" for an offense like this, so it is important to have a skilled criminal defense attorney representing your best interests.

The Latest Developments in Theft Law Across Texas

For the most part, theft is a serious crime in Texas. Lawmakers and law enforcement officials alike have not neglected to focus on it. In fact, during the past year, a wide variety of policy and law changes have been enacted that could affect many Texans. A few of the most recent developments in theft law throughout Texas include:

  • Mail/Package Theft—Over the last several weeks, many people have found themselves spending a lot more time at home due to the current public health crisis. As a result, they might be ordering more items to be shipped to their house as opposed to going out and buying them at stores. Recent reports show that theft of packages from porches and entryways has increased. In response to these crimes, the governor signed into law House Bill 37, which provides much stiffer penalties for stealing packages from homes and apartments. This is a particularly significant law in that it moves enforcement away from federal hands to local and state oversight, which may result in more willingness to enforce and prosecute even the smallest instances of package theft. This is also an important update to theft law, since prior legislation in Texas never even took these types of theft into consideration. With punishments ranging from misdemeanors to felonies that carry substantial prison time, mail/package theft is something to be taken very seriously. This law for the state of Texas took effect last fall.

  • Theft by Necessity—Some parts of Texas are establishing more tolerant policies with regards to the enforcement and prosecution of theft. This is due, in large part, to the idea that some people are stealing out of sheer necessity due to poverty or other issues. For example, a little more than a year ago in Dallas County, the District Attorney (DA) decided that “theft of necessary items” will no longer be prosecuted unless it was done specifically for economic gain as opposed to an existential necessity. These so-called “necessary items” must be valued at $750 or less. Such a shift in policy is meant to decriminalize poverty and refocus the DA’s efforts on theft resulting in more serious financial losses.

Contact a Plano Theft Defense Lawyer

You might think that theft is not a big deal, but here in Texas, it is a serious crime. While some counties may be loosening their definitions of punishable theft, the majority of Texans should be aware that theft, especially of high-value items and packages on doorsteps, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and prison time or other severe punishments may be imposed in these cases. Do not let yourself fall into that situation. Reach out to a skilled Collin County criminal law attorney who will help you defend against charges of theft or other criminal offenses. Contact the Law Offices of Biederman & Burleson P.L.L.C. at 469-333-3333 for a free consultation.

 

Sources:
https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.31.htm
https://www.texastribune.org/2019/06/20/texas-stolen-packages-and-mail-theft-could-lead-years-prison-felony/
https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/dallas-county-district-attorneys-office-to-dismiss-many-misdemeanor-state-jail-felony-cases/252792/

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