If you have been charged with theft in Houston, few things can have a bigger impact on the severity of your sentence than having a prior conviction on your record.
How do prior convictions affect Houston theft cases? Having a felony or misdemeanor conviction in Texas can make it difficult to secure a loan, get a job or find a place to live. It can also cause problems if you have been charged with a misdemeanor theft charge, especially if you already have a prior conviction for theft on your record. Having a prior conviction on your record can result in additional fines and/or jail time.
If you or someone you know has been charged with theft in Houston and have a prior conviction on your record, the smart thing to do is to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances in your case, a theft attorney can help minimize how prior convictions affect a Houston theft case.
Taking the Stand Can be a Mistake in a Theft Case
Taking the stand at your trial will allow the prosecutor to ask you about your prior convictions. A judge or jury may be more negatively inclined towards a defendant with a prior criminal record. It’s the job of the defense attorney to either prevent their client from testifying or to attempt to downplay the prior convictions by pointing out that the crime occurred many years before, the defendant has committed no crimes since, etc.
Another tool that can affect defendants with prior convictions is sentence enhancement.
Many states, including Texas, apply enhanced sentencing when it comes to punishing repeat offenders. Enhancement of a criminal penalty means to increase the punishment for a crime – either through additional fines, jail time or both – when the defendant has a prior conviction(s) on their record. Judges use sentence enhancements to deter repeat offenders and keep habitual criminals in jail.
Enhanced Sentencing for Theft Convictions in Texas
Because of sentence enhancement, prior convictions for theft in Texas can affect the punishment a defendant will receive for their current theft charges if they are found guilty.
For instance, if this is the defendant’s second conviction for any kind of theft, a Class C misdemeanor involving theft of property or services valued at less than $50 will become a Class B misdemeanor, with increased fines and the possibility of jail time. If the defendant has two or more prior convictions for any level of theft and is charged with theft involving property or services valued at less than $1,500, the charges can become a state jail felony rather than a Class B or Class A misdemeanor.
In addition to theft, prior convictions can also have an impact on sentencing in DWI, DUI and domestic violence cases. It can even work against you in civil litigation case, where a prior conviction can be used in an attempt to cast doubts on your honesty and character.
Speak With an Experienced Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer
In Texas, previous convictions for felonies and misdemeanors charges can be used against you during sentencing. If you’ve been charged with theft in Houston and have a prior conviction you need the help of criminal defense attorney with the skills and expertise to effectively act on your behalf.
Lisa Shapiro Strauss has been successfully defending residents of Houston and surrounding communities who have been charged with a wide variety of crimes for almost 20 years. Being a former prosecutor has given Lisa valuable insights into how the state will proceed with its case and the knowledge to determine which defense strategies are best suited to your case.
If this isn’t the first time you’ve been charged with theft, you need the services of a highly experienced defense lawyer like Lisa Shapiro Strauss to effectively minimize how those prior convictions affect a Houston theft case.
Don’t put off getting legal counsel – call Lisa Shapiro Strauss to schedule a consultation. Lisa will review the facts in your case, answer all your questions and advise you on the most effective way to defend you against the crimes you’ve been charged with.