Despite inflation, the amounts used to determine the penalties for theft have failed to change for 22 years. The Texas Legislature recognized this problem and changed the threshold amounts for all theft offenses committed after September 1, 2015. These changes will make the most difference for the offenses at the lower end and upper end of the theft amount spectrum.

Old Amounts

Even though the legislature has changed the threshold theft amounts, it only affects those offenses that occurred after the September 1, 2015 date, regardless of the court date. However, a skilled defense attorney can possibly argue on your behalf and try to have your offense dropped down to a lower level, based on the new changes. The following is a breakdown of the theft classifications before September 1, 2015:

  • Class C misdemeanor: Less than $50

  • Class B misdemeanor: Between $50 and $500

  • Class A misdemeanor: Between $500 and $1,500

  • State Jail Felony: $1,500 and $20,000

  • 3rd Degree Felony: $20,000 and $100,000

  • 2nd Degree Felony: $200,000 and $300,000

  • 1st Degree Felony: Over $200,000

What was unfortunate with these amounts is that small thefts that were originally intended by the legislature to be minor were turned into more serious offenses, as the price of items increased over time. The newer amounts are more in line with the original intent of the legislature. This prevents people who made poor decisions at one moment in their lives, from ending up with a criminal record.

New Amounts

For any thefts occurring after September 1, 2015, the following amounts apply in determining the seriousness of the offense:

  • Class C misdemeanor: Less than $100

  • Class B misdemeanor: Between $100 and less than $750

  • Class A misdemeanor: $750 but less than $2,500

  • State Jail Felony: $2,500 but less than $30,000

  • 3rd Degree Felony: $30,000 but less than $150,000

  • 2nd Degree Felony: $150,000 but less than $300,000

  • 1st Degree Felony: $300,000 or greater

Under these new amounts, many people who would have been charged with a Class B misdemeanor under the old law, will now fall under the Class C misdemeanor category, which is a fine only offense. This means that less people will have to serve time in jail for committing simple thefts, and instead, will only have to pay a fine. In addition, this gives attorneys who handle theft cases more leeway in asking for deferred adjudication for their clients, which allows those who successfully complete probation to not have the theft conviction on their records. It also helps to ensure that only the most serious thefts are punished through jail or prison time.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have been charged with theft, speak to an attorney who has experience with defending theft cases. Your attorney will be able to explain the charges, ascertain the category of offense your theft charge falls under, and negotiate with the prosecution to get you the best deal possible for your situation. Understanding the theft law and implications of the new changes can be complicated. You don’t have to face it alone.

Gray, Granberry & Jones, Attorneys at Law

103 North Main Street

Bryan TX 77803

(979) 431-5101

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