When Can Misdemeanor Theft Turn into a Felony Theft Charge?

By March 5, 2019 No Comments
felony theft

Have you recently been charged with theft?

If so, you need to understand the difference between felony theft charges and misdemeanor theft charges. You might think that it’s strictly based on the value of the items you stole, but things aren’t always so clear cut. 

Keep reading to learn more about theft in Texas and what circumstances will make that theft a felony. 

What Makes Something Felony Theft? 

Theft isn’t just a misdemeanor or a felony. There are multiple levels to each that will determine how severe the punishment should be. Misdemeanors will either be charged as a class A, B or C, with class A being the most serious offense and punishable with some jail time. 

Felony cases are charged as either first, second or third-degree, with a first-degree felony theft being the most serious. So what factors can make the difference between these different classifications? 

In Texas, here are three ways that misdemeanor theft can turn into a felony: 

1. The Value of the Item 

Like most states, the primary way Texas determines whether something is felony theft or a misdemeanor is by the value of the item. For example, stealing something under $50 is the lowest offense, with just a fine and no jail time. But a charge over $200,000 is a first-degree felony and will get you a massive fine and potentially life in prison. 

If you’re confused about the different distinctions, check out this website to see a full breakdown of how charges can change based on the value of the item. In Texas, misdemeanors usually mean that the item was worth under $1,500. 

2. The Type of Item 

Sometimes your theft will be classified as a felony no matter what the value of the item is. If you steal certain types of items, such as firearms or a car you’ll likely face a felony charge. These crimes can still be charged as a felony, even if the technical value of the item is under $1,500. 

3. You Commit More Than One Theft 

Some professional thieves know the laws in Texas, so they’ll avoid stealing anything over $1,500, but steal multiple times. This repetitive theft can still get you charged with a felony, even though you’ve technically never taken anything over $1,500. If police catch you on one count of theft, they’ll uncover more.

These charges can be combined into felony theft rather than multiple misdemeanor charges, which means you’ll face higher consequences including possible jail time. 

4. How Many Past Convictions You Have 

Similar to our point above, you can also face a higher charge if you have multiple past convictions of theft. For example, if you were previously charged with a lower-level theft and didn’t receive jail time, you might not be as lucky the next time around. 

Contact a Criminal Attorney Today 

As we pointed out earlier, felony theft has considerably higher charges than a misdemeanor. If you’re charged with a felony in Texas, you need an expert criminal defense attorney on your side. 

After you’re charged with theft, contact our team for a free consultation. We’ll determine the best plan of action to defend your case.