In Texas, theft is when the defendant unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of the possession and control of the property.

What Is “Unlawful Appropriation?”

Unlawful appropriation is the transfer of title or non-possessory interest in property from the owner. Appropriation of property is considered unlawful when:

  • Property is taken without the owner’s consent;
  • The defendant accepts property that they know was taken without the owner’s consent; or
  • The defendant accepted property in police custody, despite the fact that it was explicitly represented by police to the defendant as being stolen.

When Can I Be Charged with Theft in Texas?

Texas included the following offenses into their state statute for theft:

  • Acquisition of property by threat
  • Theft by false pretext
  • Theft from the person
  • Conversion by a bailee
  • Swindling
  • Swindling by worthless check
  • Shoplifting
  • Embezzlement
  • Concealing stolen property
  • Extortion
  • Concealing or receiving embezzled property

Is Consent a Defense to Theft in Texas?

Yes. Informed consent legally authorizes the defendant to act for the property owner. In Texas, consent is not a defense when it is not informed, like when it is:

  • Obtained by coercion or deception
  • Given by an individual who is intoxicated, too young to consent, or has a mental defect or disease
  • Given by an individual who is not legally authorized to act for the owner
  • Given by an individual who is of advanced age or is known to have a diminished capacity and unable to make rational and informed decisions

Can a Theft Victim Sue Me in Civil Court for Criminal Theft?

Yes. Under the Texas Theft Liability Act, a theft victim may sue to recover damages, including actual damages, caused by theft. A successful victim can receive up to $1,000 in damages, as well paid attorney’s fees.

Should I Contract a Lawyer about My Case?

Yes. Contact a Texas criminal lawyer for help to fight your criminal theft charge.