Texas had nearly 27,000 cases of felony theft pending in its courts in 2020, and reports of more than 460,000 thefts reported. There were also more than 14,000 reports of insurance theft during that period. Collectively, they represent the most prevalent categories of crimes in the state.
A conviction for misdemeanor or felony theft or criminal fraud can haunt you for the rest of your life. Your opportunities for employment, education, housing, and your personal relationships may suffer the consequences. If you have been charged with theft or criminal fraud, whether you are guilty or innocent, you need to put an aggressive criminal defense attorney in your corner. There is simply too much at stake.
Attorney Mekisha Jane Walker launched her legal career prosecuting those charged with crimes. Now, she uses that experience to defend clients in Houston, Texas, and throughout Harris, Montgomery, Galveston, Brazoria, and Fort Bend counties facing theft and fraud charges.
Theft is a property crime involving the taking or possession of anything that does not belong to you and for which you do not have permission to have. Texas law defines it as unlawfully appropriating property with the intent to deprive the owner of it.
Criminal charges can result from the theft of personal property, cargo, real estate, services, ideas and trade secrets, and documents. Receiving stolen property, embezzlement, extortion, vandalism, and swindling also constitute theft. Unlike burglary, theft typically does not involve violence.
Whether a theft is charged as a misdemeanor or felony depends largely upon the value of the stolen property, who it was stolen from, and the type of property taken. Stealing a firearm is more serious than stealing a television, and conviction penalties are enhanced if the victim is over the age of 65 or if you disabled a fire alarm while committing the crime.
Charges and penalties range from a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $100 and no jail time, to first degree felony theft, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of five to 99 years.
Criminal fraud involves misrepresenting who you are in order to obtain property or money under false intent. In other words, you intentionally cheat or use deceptive practices for financial gain.
Examples include using someone else’s credit or debit card, forging a check or creating a fake ID, using someone else’s account credentials online, or stealing someone’s identity. Criminal fraud also includes such crimes as defrauding Medicaid by concealing income, cheating on your income taxes, faking a work injury for compensation, or falsely claiming unemployment benefits.
Some of the general kinds criminal fraud include:
Health and pharmacy fraud
Check, credit, and debit card fraud
Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation fraud
Romantic or other relationship fraud
Tax and securities fraud
Penalties for criminal fraud cover the same range as penalties for misdemeanor and felony theft. There are also enhancements for circumstances such as crimes against the elderly or exploitation of a child.
Things are not always as they appear with theft and fraud crimes. Innocent people are charged with fraud when someone else used their identity without their knowledge in order to defraud. Property reported as stolen might not belong to the person who claims it. Values of property in thefts may be debatable. For example, theft or fraud involving $2,499 is a Class A misdemeanor. If the value is $2,500, you could be charged with a felony.
A seasoned criminal defense attorney – especially one who has prosecutorial experience – can make the difference between acquittal and conviction, misdemeanor and felony, prison or probation.
If you have been charged with theft or criminal fraud in Houston or anywhere else in Texas, whether you are innocent or guilty, there is too much at stake for you to not fight back. Who you put in your corner from the beginning can make a difference. Set up an initial consultation with Walker Law Office today.