Porch pirates beware. You could find yourself being arrested on aggregate theft charges. Depending on the value of the packages you swiped, you could find yourself facing felony rather than just misdemeanor charges.
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What is aggregate theft in Texas? According to Section 31.09 of the Texas penal code, aggregate theft occurs when an individual commits two or more thefts “pursuant to one scheme or continuing course of conduct, whether from the same or several sources.” Under the law, these types of thefts can be combined and considered to be one offense. The dollar amount of the aggregated loot will determine the grade of the offense.
Aggregate Theft Can Be a Felony Crime in Texas
If you’ve been arrested for aggregate theft in Texas, you could be facing either misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on what you’re accused of stealing, how you stole it, who you stole it from, any criminal history, and the value of the property you’re alleged to have stolen:
- Class C misdemeanor charges if the aggregate amount is less than $100.
- Class B misdemeanor charges if the aggregate amount is more than $100 but less than $750.
- Class A misdemeanor charges if the aggregate amount is more than $750 but less than $2,500.
In Texas, misdemeanor offenses are punishable by fines not exceeding $4,000 or jail terms not exceeding 12 months or a combination of the two.
If the aggregate amount is more than $2500, the defendant could be charged with a felony crime:
- State jail felony charges if the aggregate amount is more than $2500 but less than $30,000.
- Third-degree felony charges if the aggregate amount is more than $30000 but less than $150,000.
- Second-degree felony charges if the aggregate amount is more than $150,000 but less than $300,000.
- First-degree charges if the aggregate amount is $300,000 or more.
Felony charges are much more serious than misdemeanor charges in Texas. Punishments for felony aggregate theft in Texas can range from 180 days to life in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
What to Do If You’ve Been Charged With Aggregate Theft in Texas
If you’ve been arrested and charged with aggregate theft in Texas, it’s important to take steps to protect your rights. Any conviction, misdemeanor or felony, will permanently remain on your public record. This could make it hard for you to find a job, get a place to live or qualify for a loan.
The first thing you should do is hire an experienced Houston theft attorney. They’ll be able to examine the evidence against you and devise a legal strategy to obtain the best possible outcome in your case. This includes defenses for charges of aggregate theft.
Here’s an example: Aggregate thefts involve two or more offenses. In an aggregate theft case, like all other criminal cases, a conviction requires a unanimous decision by the jury. But they have to find you guilty of at least two of the offenses in order for you to be convicted of aggregate theft. If the jury cannot come to a unanimous decision to convict for at least two of the offenses, you could be acquitted of the aggregated theft charges.
Frequently Asked Questions About Theft Charges in Texas
A prior conviction for theft can have a serious impact on a theft case in Texas. Not only can a judge or jury be more negatively inclined towards a defendant with a prior criminal record, but also prior convictions can result in enhanced sentencing if convicted.
After a theft is reported to the police, they will begin investigation. When a suspect is arrested, an arraignment date will be set, followed by pretrial hearings. This will generally lead to an offer of a plea deal from the prosecutor. If necessary, a trial will follow.
There are many reasons a theft case might get dismissed, from lack of probable cause to insufficient evidence. An experienced Houston theft attorney is the best person to advise you on whether a dismissal may be possible and protect your rights.
Get Help Protecting Your Rights
Lisa Shapiro Strauss is a highly experienced Houston criminal defense attorney who has successfully defended many clients charged with misdemeanor and felony theft charges in Houston and Harris County. A former prosecutor turned criminal defense attorney, Lisa has experienced the criminal justice system from both sides of the aisle. Her knowledge of prosecutorial tactics, the legal system, and the way judges, prosecutors, and juries make their decisions gives her strategic insights that other defense lawyers lack.
Remember, the law says you’re innocent until proven guilty. Take steps to protect your rights. Charged with theft in Texas? Call the law offices of Lisa Shapiro Strauss at (713) 449-9922 or contact us online to arrange for a free consultation.