Shoplifting can be a rite of passage for kids, especially pre-teens and teenagers. From youthful curiosity to heavy peer pressure, many of us took that chance when we were young. We grabbed a candy bar or magazine when we thought no one was looking, and felt terrible afterwards for taking something that isn’t ours.

If there is one thing we should teach our children, it is that taking something that isn’t yours is not only wrong, but comes with serious consequences, especially as one gets older… and especially in the state of Texas.

What is the Difference between Burglary, Robbery and Theft?

Theft, burglary and robbery are each defined differently by the Texas penal code. The value of the stolen property is the biggest factor in determining whether the crime is a misdemeanor or a felony, as well as the amount of a fine and the possibility and duration of any jail time.

Theft is defined as an offense where one unlawfully appropriates property with the intent to deprive the owner of that property. The types of theft crimes in Texas range from petty theft such as shoplifting to possession of stolen property to tampering with personal ID numbers. Insurance and welfare fraud, identity theft, and embezzlement all fall under the definition of theft, as does (and this may surprise some of you) stealing cable. Other theft crimes in Texas include forgery, employee theft, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, and theft of trade secrets.

Burglary is a little different, although this is a crime that typically involves a theft. Burglary is defined as when a person unlawfully enters or remains concealed within a structure, be it a home or a business, with the intent to commit a felony. However, burglary does not require that a theft occur.

If in the course of committing theft a person threatens another person with or causes bodily injury, the crime becomes a robbery.

Penalties for Misdemeanor and Felony Theft

Penalties for theft are mainly determined by the value of the alleged loss. One of the things a skilled theft defense attorney will try to do is argue down the value of that loss. In Texas, even the consequences of stealing property worth less than $20 carries a hefty fine.

Values, classifications and maximum punishments are as follows:

  • For property worth less than $20, class C misdemeanor, $500 fine.
  • Worth between $20 and $499, class B misdemeanor, 180 days, $2,000 fine.
  • Between $500 and $1,499, class A misdemeanor, 1 year, $4,000 fine.
  • Between $1,500 and $19,999, state jail felony, 180 days to 2 years, $10,000 fine.
  • Between $20,000 and $99,999, third-degree felony, 2-10 years, $10,000 fine.
  • Between $100,000 and $199,999, second-degree felony, 2-20 years, $10,000 fine.
  • Between $200,000 or more, first-degree felony, 5-99 years or life, $10,000 fine.


Houston Theft Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with theft, exercise your right to remain silent, do not sign any statements of any sort, and seek out the services of a qualified, theft defense attorney. The award-winning team at Thiessen Law Firm has both the resources and the skills to ensure you receive a fair trial. Contact us today for a free evaluation.

Thiessen Law Firm

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.