According to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the statute of limitations on theft in Texas is generally five years after the alleged date of the crime. This means that the state has five years to prosecute you for a theft crime — however, this time frame can vary based on the severity of the theft charge.
The moment that theft is allegedly committed, the clock starts ticking. If the charges against you are not filed during the established time frame, they cannot be filed at all. The only exception to this rule is if:
- The suspect was not in the state of Texas when the alleged theft occurred
- The suspect was away “during the pendency of an indictment.” If you leave the state of Texas shortly after allegedly committing a theft, the statute of limitations “clock” will stop but will start ticking again the moment you re-enter Texas.
Knowing exactly what the statute of limitations is in your case can be the difference between a theft indictment and a case dismissal.
Why are statutes of limitation put in place?
Statutes of limitation exist to prevent any unfair legal action from being taken against defendants, but also to make sure that legal cases are taken care of in a timely manner. A statute of limitations can ensure that old evidence that has deteriorated over time is not used to convict you, but also to make sure that relevant evidence will not be lost in time for the prosecution.
Putting a clock on legal proceedings is important for everyone involved. Let’s say you get pulled over, the cop runs your identification, and the next thing you know you’re being put in handcuffs and arrested for theft. After being bailed out, you wait … and you wait … and you wait. You don’t hear a word about your case for months, a year, or more, and you begin to wonder if this situation will ever be solved.
You shouldn’t have to worry about a theft charge hanging over your head due to law enforcement lapsing on their responsibility to prosecute your case within a fair timeline. Despite statutes of limitations being in place, this situation is not uncommon. So, what do you do?
Contact Javier Guzman from Guzman Law Firm to ensure that you have reliable representation. He is a trustworthy and relentless Laredo theft defense lawyer who will check the statute of limitations of Texas’ theft laws and fight for your freedom if the charges against you are still valid.
How long after a theft can you be charged in Texas?
According to Title 7, Chapter 31 of the Texas Penal Code, theft occurs when “a person commits an offense if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of the property.” The statute of limitations on theft in Texas can vary for the different types of theft crimes depending on the severity.
If you are accused of shoplifting (a misdemeanor charge), the retailer has up to two years to file charges against you according to Texas theft laws.
Although a minor theft charge doesn’t seem “that bad,” it can make it difficult for you to find future employment and housing, and obtain other necessary documents like insurance. No matter how minor the charge is, it’s always best to find legal representation to help you drop the charge.
A theft is considered a felony if the property stolen is valued at $2,500 or more. The statute of limitations for felony theft is 3-5 years from the date of the crime. Felony thefts are usually considered to be more severe cases such as embezzlement.
The penalties for a felony theft charge are steep and include hefty fines and jail sentences. These penalties will only worsen if you have prior theft convictions which is why it is important to have an attorney for any theft charge in the first place, no matter how minor.
Theft by a fiduciary or public servant
If you are a fiduciary or public servant who was accused of theft, the state has 10 years to formally press charges against you. This type of theft occurs if you held the role of a fiduciary or public servant at the time of the alleged theft, and whatever property was stolen came into your possession as a result of your role.
The more severe the case of theft is, the higher the number goes.
Were you charged outside of the statute of limitations? Guzman Law Firm can help.
If you were charged with alleged theft outside of the statute of limitations on theft in Texas, that charge is likely invalid. Unfortunately, some members of law enforcement will still try to press forward with unfair and dated charges. The minute you think a charge is coming your way, call Javier Guzman from Guzman Law Firm, a relentless criminal attorney in Laredo, TX.
Defend your freedom by calling Guzman Law Firm at (956) 333-3977 or scheduling a consultation online today.
If you are in need of a Laredo federal defense attorney, Javier Guzman can provide relentless representation.
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