Property crimes like theft, robbery, fraud, and burglary have one thing in common – the removal of another’s property without consent. People often use these words interchangeably; however, each one has unique characteristics and penalties.
Today, we will look at the key differences of each crime and the penalties associated with each one.
What Constitutes Theft in Texas?
The Texas Penal Code § 31.03 defines theft as unlawfully appropriating property with the intention of depriving the owner of his/her property. It is unlawful to take property without the owner’s consent or the property is stolen and sold to another person who knows that the property was stolen. In Texas, the penalties are based on the value of the items stolen.
For thefts of less than $2,500, a defendant can be charged with a misdemeanor (Class C, B, or A) and be sentenced with up to one year in jail and a fine of not more than $4,000. If a defendant is charged with stealing property valued at more than $2,500, he or she could be facing a felony (first degree, second degree, third degree or state felony) with a much larger fine and years of jail time in state prison.
What Is Burglary?
In Texas, burglary is defined as unlawfully entering a structure with the intent to commit a crime. Although many burglaries involve theft, other crimes can be considered burglary, including but not limited to murder, assault, crimes of force or coercion, and other felonies.
If a defendant is charged with burglary in a building that is not inhabited, it can result in a state jail felony with a sentence of 6 months to 2 years and fines up to $10,000. If burglary is committed in a building that is inhabited and a felony other than felony theft is committed, the charge is increased to a first-degree felony, which has a sentence of 5 years to life in state prison and fines up to $10,000.
What Is Robbery?
Robbery in Texas occurs during the course of theft when the defendant intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly causes bodily injury to a person or threatens or places another person in fear of imminent harm or death.
In Texas, a robbery conviction results in a second-degree felony charge. The penalty for this offense includes state prison time between 2 and 20 years and a fine of no more than $10,000.
If the crime is elevated to aggravated robbery, the charge is increased to a first-degree felony with prison time of 5 to 99 years and a fine of no more than $10,000.
What Is Fraud?
Fraud is a deliberate attempt to deceive someone for personal or financial gain. Under Texas law, there are three types of fraud – credit card, identity theft, and health care fraud.
Credit Card Fraud – Credit card fraud occurs when the defendant uses another person’s credit card or debit card without the person’s consent, or the defendant knowingly uses a credit card or debit card that is expired or invalid. If a defendant is convicted of credit card fraud, he or she can be sentenced for up to two years in state prison and be fined up to $10,000. If the defendant’s actions are against an elderly individual, the charges can be upgraded to a third-degree felony.
Health Care Fraud – Health care fraud occurs when a patient provides false information or a provider files false claims to an insurance company. Many people use government-issued insurance, such as Medicare, to receive affordable medical treatments.
Medicare Fraud – Medicare fraud results in a federal felony conviction because Medicare is funded by the United States government. If a defendant is convicted of Medicare fraud, he or she could face extremely high fines and years in federal prison.
Identity Theft – Stealing personal information and using it for fraudulent purposes is called identity theft. Identity theft causes significant hardship and economic loss. Using another person’s identifying information to obtain goods, services, money, or anything of value is identity theft.
If a defendant is found with less than five pieces of other people’s identifying information, he or she could face 2 years in prison, probation, community service and a fine of up to $10,000.
If a person is found with more than five pieces of other people’s identifying information, he or she could face felony charges of 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Contact Our Team of Criminal Law Attorneys Today!
At the law offices of Vinas and Graham, we understand the intricacies of the law surrounding property crime, including robbery. When you work with us, you get full access to our knowledgeable and skillful team that will work hard to get your charges reduced or dropped.
If you have been charged with robbery in Texas, contact us by phone, email, or use our convenient contact form to discuss your case today.