Texas Property Crime Lawyer
There are many different crimes against property covered under Texas penal law and they can result in either misdemeanor or felony charges. Remember that an arrest is not the same as a conviction. Do not give up hope if you have been arrested for a theft/property crime offense before speaking to us. Our knowledgeable team takes every possible measure to help clients avoid the lasting repercussions of a criminal conviction and have over 30 combined years of experience handling property crime cases in South and Central Texas.
- Criminal mischief
- Breaking and Entering
What is Property Crime in Texas?
In 2016, the State of Texas reported just over 2,759 property crimes per 100,000 inhabitants, which is 6.9 percent higher than the national average. Every state has its own property crime definition. Under the Texas Penal Code, the act of stealing, damaging or destroying another person’s real or intangible property are considered property crime offenses.
In Texas, you can be charged with criminal mischief if you intentionally or knowingly damage property that belongs to another person. This type of property crime, often called vandalism, also includes tampering, marking, painting, writing, etching on or otherwise defiling property that is not your own. Criminal mischief can be prosecuted as a Class A, B or C misdemeanor, state jail felony, or felony of the first, second or third degree, depending on the type of property damage and the resulting pecuniary losses.
If an individual starts a fire, regardless if the blaze continues or causes an explosion with intent to damage or destroy property, they may face arson charges under Texas Penal Code 28.02. This law applies to arson cases involving:
- Vegetation, fences, structures or open-space lands
- Habitation, vehicles, and buildings
- Knowing the property is within city or town limits
- Knowing that the property is insured against damage
- Knowing that the structure is on private property
- Knowing that the property is subject to a mortgage
- Reckless actions that endanger the life of a person or the safety of the property of another
Breaking and entering, also referred to as criminal trespass, is another common property crime offense in Texas. This type of offense involves the illegal entry into another person’s property, without the consent of the owner. The statutory definition of criminal trespass includes entering property without legal permission, be it: residential land, a building, an RV park, agricultural land, an aircraft, or other kinds of vehicle.
In many breaking and entering cases, suspects will pick locks or break windows to gain entry to the structure, but they can also employ fraud or deception (posing as an authority figure or security guard) to gain access to private property. Breaking and entering charges in Texas can be filed even in situations where no property was damaged or theft crimes committed. The legal repercussions of a criminal trespass conviction in Texas can be exceedingly harsh, punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines.
Jodi Soyars and the Soyars & Morgan Law team provide personalized attention to your criminal case. Jodi Soyars is a Board Certified Texas Criminal Lawyer. This distinction places her among the top 10 percent of criminal defense lawyers in the state of Texas, marking her as a true professional who specializes in even the toughest criminal cases. Backed by years of experience and a history of successful case results, you can feel confident turning to Soyars & Morgan Law for high quality representation. Read more about why you should hire a board certified criminal lawyer.
Over the course of her career, Jodi Soyars has defended the rights of individuals throughout Texas charged with assault, drug crimes, sex crimes, and other criminal misdemeanors and felonies for many years. Whether you have been arrested for an assault, family violence, drug crime, sex crime, theft, weapons, misdemeanors or felonies, it’s very important that you meet virtually or in-person with our Texas criminal lawyer, Jodi Soyars, to discuss your best defense and see what options you have in protecting yourself from a criminal record and possible jail time. While every case is different, the goal is always the same: obtain a dismissal or reduction.
Legal Defenses in Texas Property Crime Cases
Most types of property crimes are committed with intent or knowledge of the alleged offense. It is up to the prosecutor to prove that the suspect recklessly, intentionally, or knowingly committed the offense, which can be challenging to prove without concrete evidence. There are various arguments that may be used to defend a property crime charge, and a well-qualified attorney will know the most effective strategy to achieve the best results.
Potential defenses may include:
- Justification – If the act is justifiable because it was committed to prevent public or private harm.
- Duress – If the alleged offender was threatened with physical harm or coerced to commit the offense.
- Renunciation – If the alleged offender either made significant efforts to stop the property crime from happening, or stopped participating in the act altogether.
- Reasonable Belief – If the alleged suspect had reasonable belief that they had permission from the owner to enter or use the property.
How Soyars & Morgan Law Can Help
Our award-winning Texas team of attorneys is here to help you. If you have been arrested for a property crime in Texas, don’t underestimate the value of a reputable criminal defense lawyer. Soyars & Morgan Law has a trusted reputation in the San Antonio and surrounding areas for personalized, aggressive advocacy. For an honest, no-obligation case review, we invite you to reach out today for a free consultation.