Theft and Crimes of Moral Turpitude

| Dec 6, 2010 | Criminal Defense |

Theft is known as a crime of moral turpitude.  It is especially troubling to be charged with a theft because if you are convicted or if the matter is not expunged from your record, then it will be extremely difficult for you to get a job in many instances.  When combining more than one instance of theft and aggregating the amounts, the prosecution typically uses the words “continuing course of conduct to avoid questions about the date of the theft”.  Because aggregated transactions are considered to be one offense, severance is typically not proper even if it is requested under Texas Penal Code 3.04 according to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1990.

It is critical for a defense counsel to make sure that an indictment for theft alleges a culpable mental state and that the defendant had “the intent to deprive the owner the property”.  The state must show criminal intent to support a felony theft conviction. 

As far as the value goes, a theft indictment must allege the value of the stolen property when the value is necessary to determine punishment. 

Typically, if it is alleged that someone stole more than $1500.00 and less than $20,000.00, then the citizen accused will be indicted for a State Jail Felony.  A State Jail Felony has a range of punishment of 180 days up to two years confinement in a State Jail Facility.  It also carries with it a fine not to exceed $10,000.00.  If the amount of the theft is over $20,000.00 and less than $100,000.00 then it becomes a Third Degree Felony.  Thefts that exceed $200,000.00 constitute a First Degree Felony and can carry with it a range of punishment of five years confinement up to ninety nine years confinement in the Texas Department of Correctional Facilities and up to a $10,000.00 fine or both such fine and confinement. 

These serious consequences plainly show the meaning of how important it is to try to win and aggressively defend a theft case.  Unless there is a Petition for Nondisclosure or Expunction filed, then any potential employer that runs your criminal history record can see that you were arrested even if you were not convicted of the theft offense.