PROPERTY CRIMES DEFENSE LAWYER IN TEXAS
TYPES OF PROPERTY CRIMES
Property crimes in Texas generally involve theft or criminal mischief of another person’s property. There is no violence used or threatened, or else it becomes a violent crime and the prosecutor usually handles those crimes more seriously. The term “property crimes” encompasses a range of offenses ranging from the more minor, such as trespassing, to serious crimes such as burglary of a habitation and arson.
At The Lowe Law Office, PLLC, we have successfully defended many Texas property crimes. Call (817) 678-5080 to schedule a Free Consultation and learn how we can help you fight the charges you’re facing.
Trespassing involves entering someone’s property without their permission. It is different from burglary in that the defendant has no intent to commit a crime when they enter the property. Simply being on another person’s property is not enough. The State must prove a person intended to be on another person’s property without consent and had notice to depart but failed to do so. Generally, a closed door or a fence is enough “notice” that entry is forbidden, but it could also simply be the homeowner, or someone with a greater right of possession, telling another person to vacate the property. If that person does not leave in immediately, they could be arrested for trespassing.
A defendant commits criminal mischief by destroying or damaging someone’s property without their permission. Examples of criminal mischief include graffitiing, keying a car, knocking down a street sign, or breaking someone’s personal belongings.
Theft is the taking of a person’s property without their permission and with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. The potential sentences for theft vary widely based on the type and value of the property taken. A misdemeanor theft in Texas for property valued under $100 is only a Class C misdemeanor, which has a penalty range of up to $500. The most serious theft is a 1st degree felony which carries up to a 99 year or Life sentence, if the value of the property stolen is over $300,000.
When someone unlawfully enters a building or habitation (house or apartment) with the intent to commit a crime, they commit burglary. Even if they don’t commit the crime once they are inside the premises, they are still guilty of burglary if they simply had the intent to commit a crime once inside. If they did not intend to commit a crime, and just wanted to walk inside and see what was inside, then they are only guilty of Criminal Trespass which is a misdemeanor. A good defense attorney knows this and can help show the State that someone’s intent was not to commit a crime, and therefore the charges should be reduced.
Arson is a felony because it is a serious offense that involves intentionally burning property, a building, or forest land. The penalties for arson increase significantly if the premises were occupied at the time, or if anyone was injured or killed as a result of the fire.
PENALTIES FOR TEXAS PROPERTY CRIMES
Possible penalties for property crimes include:
- Restitution to the victim for their loss
- Community service
The penalty for a property crime depends on several factors, including whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony and the seriousness of the allegations, including the type and value of the property.
DEFENSES AGAINST PROPERTY CRIMES ALLEGATIONS IN TEXAS
Depending on the circumstances of the allegations, there can be several defenses available to defendants in Texas charged with property crimes. Common defenses include mistake, necessity, and Duress.
If a defendant holds a genuine but mistaken belief as to the facts when they commit the act, they may not be guilty. This is because the defendant doesn’t have the intent required to prove most property crimes, and so they cannot be held criminally liable.
For example, if a defendant takes another person’s bike from a bike rack outside their apartment building because it looks almost identical to theirs, they may be able to argue the defense of mistake of fact.
PUBLIC OR PRIVATE NECESSITY
Necessity is a common defense to property crimes for situations where the defendant interfered with the property in an emergency. If the defendant needed to interfere with the property to prevent greater harm to the community (public necessity) or themself (private necessity), then they are not criminally liable for the act.
For example, if a passerby sees a fire inside a closed shop and breaks a window to extinguish the fire, they may not be criminally responsible for the damage to the window based on public necessity.
Where a defendant commits a property crime as a direct result of immediate threats or force such as blackmail, they may be able to argue coercion. If successful, they cannot be held criminally responsible for the crime as they did not act voluntarily.
SPEAK TO A PROPERTY CRIMES ATTORNEY IN TEXAS TODAY
If you are facing charges of a property crime, it’s imperative you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At The Lowe Law Office, PLLC, we have the expertise and experience to craft a defense to get you the best-possible outcome. Call (817) 678-5080 or fill out an online form today to schedule a Free Consultation.