Theft and Property Crimes
When most people think about property crimes, they think about vandalism or robbery. However, the term covers a much larger body of crimes against and towards property, from graffiti to violent burglaries. Because these crimes are so varied, some individuals wonder whether actions they plan on engaging in, or have engaged in, may actually be criminal. It is important to understand what exactly is unlawful to avoid being convicted of these types of crimes.
Attorney Matt Horak is experienced in representing those accused of a variety of different theft and property-related crimes, including:
If you have been arrested or accused of any of the above theft or property crimes, it’s important to speak with a criminal defense attorney as early as possible in your case.
Houston Theft Crimes Attorney
Attorney Matt Horak understands the complexities of theft and property crime. He has represented and advised many Texans regarding this area of law, and he’s ready to help you.
If you have been arrested for theft or any other property crime anywhere in the greater Houston area, including Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Brazoria, Galveston, Liberty, or Waller counties, contact Horak Law at (713) 225-8000 and schedule your initial consultation to discuss the details of your case.
Theft and Property Crimes Information Center
- What is theft?
- What is robbery?
- What is burglary?
- What are property crimes?
- Resources for Houston Property Crimes
Theft is the simplest of all of the property crimes. It is also the crime upon which most other property crimes are built. For example, a robbery is a type of theft, but with the extra elements of injury or threat.
A person commits a theft if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property. Usually, the appropriation is unlawful because the person does not have the owner’s consent to take it. This is the simplest definition of theft, found in §31.03 of the Texas Penal Code.
Chapter 31 of the Texas Penal Code includes many less-common types of theft, including theft of service, theft by check, and theft of trade secrets. What kind of punishment the defendant is sentenced to depends on which type of theft he is convicted of. However, all thefts—and really, almost all property crimes — begin with the basic premise of taking property that is not yours, without the owner’s consent.
If you have been accused of theft or any property crime, or you have questions regarding whether your behavior might constitute a property crime, you should speak with an attorney immediately.
Robbery is simply a theft with the added element of bodily harm or fear. It is a second degree felony.
In order to convict someone of robbery, the prosecution must show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:
- During the course of a theft;
- He had the intent to obtain or maintain control of property; and
- He intentionally, knowingly or recklessly caused bodily injury to another; or
- Intentionally or knowingly threatened the other with imminent bodily harm.
Robbery is found in section §29.02 of the Texas Penal Code.
Aggravated Robbery is found in §29.03. Aggravated robbery is committed if, in the course of a robbery, the offender causes serious bodily harm to the victim; uses or exhibits a weapon; or causes harm or threatens harm to a person who is over age 65 or disabled. Aggravated robbery is a first degree felony.
Burglary is the entrance into a building, or remaining concealed, with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assault. Burglary is found in §30.02 of the Texas Penal Code. Burglary is a state jail felony (if the building entered is not a habitation) or a second of first degree felony if the building is a habitation.
“Entering” into a building includes intruding with any part of your body (such as stepping inside of the building, or poking your head in through a window), or intruding with any physical object connected to the body (such as sliding the barrel of a gun under a door).
There are a wide variety of other property crimes found in Title 7 of the Texas Penal Code. These are some of the most commonly charged property crimes:
- §28.02: Arson—starting a fire or causing an explosion with the intent to destroy vegetation or a structure/vehicle. Whether this offense is a felony or misdemeanor, and of what degree/type, depends on the property burned and where it is located.
- §28.03: Criminal Mischief — tampering, damaging, or marking up property. The cost of the property damage determines whether this crime is a misdemeanor of felony, and of what degree/class. Graffiti is a related crime, found under §28.08, but the punishments are similar.
- §30.05: Trespass – entering onto property after receiving notice that entrance is forbidden, or failing to leave after being told to do so. Trespass is a misdemeanor.
- White Collar Crimes – a variety of offenses which most people would classify as “white collar crimes” are actually found in Title 7. These crimes can include any of the following:
- Theft of Telecommunications Service, [Section 33A.04(b)];
- Securing the Execution of a Document by Deception, [Section 32.46(b)];
- Misapplication of Fiduciary Property or Property of a Financial Institution, [Section 32.45(c)];
- Hindering of Secured Creditors Statute, [Section 32.33(e)];
- Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle Statute, [Section 32.34(f)];
- Credit Card Transaction Record Laundering, [Section 32.35(f)];
- Issuance of a Bad Check [Section 32.41]; or
- False Statement to Obtain Property or Credit [Section 32.32].
Many property crimes are counterintuitive. It might be difficult to tell if whether the activity you or a loved one have engaged in, or intend to engage in, are actually property crimes under Texas law. If you have questions about any of the above crimes, or if you believe that you may have committed a property crime in the past, you should contact an attorney immediately.
Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority – The ABTPA oversees the impact of auto theft in Texas and provides financial support to fight it.
Keep Houston Safe – Tips from the Houston police on preventing home burglary crimes
Crime Victims Compensation – Information from the Attorney General’s Office
Matt Horak | Texas Theft Crimes Defense Attorney
Attorney Matt Horak has the expertise and experience to defend you in a property crimes case. Horak Law represents clients in Houston, Texas and the surrounding areas, including all of Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Brazoria, Waller, Galveston, and Liberty counties.