Definition of Theft (Long Version) - Texas Penal Code

§ 31.03. THEFT.

(a) A person commits an offense if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property.

(b) Appropriation of property is unlawful if:                                

            (1) it is without the owner's effective consent;                    

            (2) the property is stolen and the actor appropriates the property knowing it was stolen by another; or

            (3) property in the custody of any law enforcement agency was explicitly represented by any law enforcement agent to the actor as being stolen and the actor appropriates the property believing it was stolen by another.

(c) For purposes of Subsection (b):                                         

            (1) evidence that the actor has previously participated in recent transactions other than, but similar to, that which the prosecution is based is admissible for the purpose of showing knowledge or intent and the issues of knowledge or intent are raised by the actor's plea of not guilty;

            (2) the testimony of an accomplice shall be corroborated by proof that tends to connect the actor to the crime, but the actor's knowledge or intent may be established by the uncorroborated testimony of the accomplice;

            (3) an actor engaged in the business of buying and selling used or secondhand personal property, or lending money on the security of personal property deposited with the actor, is presumed to know upon receipt by the actor of stolen property (other than a motor vehicle subject to Chapter 501, Transportation Code) that the property has been previously stolen from another if the actor pays for or loans against the property $25 or more (or consideration of equivalent value) and the actor knowingly or recklessly:

                        (A) fails to record the name, address, and physical description or identification number of the seller or pledgor;

                        (B) fails to record a complete description of the property, including the serial number, if reasonably available, or other identifying characteristics; or

                        (C) fails to obtain a signed warranty from the seller or pledgor that the seller or pledgor has the right to possess the property. It is the express intent of this provision that the presumption arises unless the actor complies with each of the numbered requirements;

            (4) for the purposes of Subdivision (3)(A), "identification number" means driver's license number, military identification number, identification certificate, or other official number capable of identifying an individual;

            (5) stolen property does not lose its character as stolen when recovered by any law enforcement agency;

            (6) an actor engaged in the business of obtaining abandoned or wrecked motor vehicles or parts of an abandoned or wrecked motor vehicle for resale, disposal, scrap, repair, rebuilding, demolition, or other form of salvage is presumed to know on receipt by the actor of stolen property that the property has been previously stolen from another if the actor knowingly or recklessly:

                        (A) fails to maintain an accurate and legible inventory of each motor vehicle component part purchased by or delivered to the actor, including the date of purchase or delivery, the name, age, address, sex, and driver's license number of the

seller or person making the delivery, the license plate number of the motor vehicle in which the part was delivered, a complete description of the part, and the vehicle identification number of the motor vehicle from which the part was removed, or in lieu of maintaining an inventory, fails to record the name and certificate of inventory number of the person who dismantled the motor vehicle from which the part was obtained;

                        (B) fails on receipt of a motor vehicle to obtain a certificate of authority, sales receipt, or transfer document as required by Chapter 683, Transportation Code, or a certificate of title showing that the motor vehicle is not subject to a lien or that all recorded liens on the motor vehicle have been released; or

                        (C) fails on receipt of a motor vehicle to immediately remove an unexpired license plate from the motor vehicle, to keep the plate in a secure and locked place, or to maintain an inventory, on forms provided by the Texas Department of Transportation, of license plates kept under this paragraph, including for each plate or set of plates the license plate number and the make, motor number, and vehicle identification number of the motor vehicle from which the plate was removed;

            (7) an actor who purchases or receives a used or secondhand motor vehicle is presumed to know on receipt by the actor of the motor vehicle that the motor vehicle has been previously stolen from another if the actor knowingly or recklessly:

                        (A) fails to report to the Texas Department of Transportation the failure of the person who sold or delivered the motor vehicle to the actor to deliver to the actor a properly executed certificate of title to the motor vehicle at the time the motor vehicle was delivered; or

                        (B) fails to file with the county tax assessor-collector of the county in which the actor received the motor vehicle, not later than the 20th day after the date the actor received the motor vehicle, the registration license receipt and certificate of title or evidence of title delivered to the actor in accordance with Subchapter D, Chapter 520, Transportation Code, at the time the motor vehicle was delivered; 

            (8) an actor who purchases or receives from any source other than a licensed retailer or distributor of pesticides a restricted-use pesticide or a state-limited-use pesticide or a compound, mixture, or preparation containing a restricted-use or state-limited-use pesticide is presumed to know on receipt by the actor of the pesticide or compound, mixture, or preparation that the pesticide or compound, mixture, or preparation has been previously stolen from another if the actor:

                        (A) fails to record the name, address, and physical description of the seller or pledgor;

                        (B) fails to record a complete description of the amount and type of pesticide or compound, mixture, or preparation purchased or received; and

                        (C) fails to obtain a signed warranty from the seller or pledgor that the seller or pledgor has the right to possess the property; and

            (9) an actor who is subject to Section 409, Packers and Stockyards Act (7 U.S.C. Section 228b), that obtains livestock from a commission merchant by representing that the actor will make prompt payment is presumed to have induced the commission merchant's consent by deception if the actor fails to make full payment in accordance with Section 409, Packers and Stockyards Act (7 U.S.C. Section 228b).

(d) It is not a defense to prosecution under this section that:           

            (1) the offense occurred as a result of a deception or strategy on the part of a law enforcement agency, including the use of an undercover operative or peace officer;

            (2) the actor was provided by a law enforcement agency with a facility in which to commit the offense or an opportunity to engage in conduct constituting the offense; or

            (3) the actor was solicited to commit the offense by a peace officer, and the solicitation was of a type that would encourage a person predisposed to commit the offense to actually commit the offense, but would not encourage a person not predisposed to commit the offense to actually commit the offense.

(e) Except as provided by Subsection (f), an offense under this section is:

            (1) a Class C misdemeanor if the value of the property stolen is less than:

                        (A) $50; or                                                               

                        (B) $20 and the defendant obtained the property by issuing or passing a check or similar sight order in a manner described by Section 31.06;

            (2) a Class B misdemeanor if:                                               

                        (A) the value of the property stolen is:                                   

                                    (i) $50 or more but less than $500; or                                   

                                    (ii) $20 or more but less than $500 and the defendant obtained the property by issuing or passing a check or similar sight order in a manner described by Section 31.06; or

                        (B) the value of the property stolen is less than:                       

                                    (i) $50 and the defendant has previously been convicted of any grade of theft; or

                                    (ii) $20, the defendant has previously been convicted of any grade of theft, and the defendant obtained the property by issuing or passing a check or similar sight order in a manner described by Section 31.06;

            (3) a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the property stolen is $500 or more but less than $1,500;

            (4) a state jail felony if:                                                 

                        (A) the value of the property stolen is $1,500 or more but less than $20,000, or the property is less than 10 head of cattle, horses, or exotic livestock or exotic fowl as defined by Section 142.001, Agriculture Code, or any part thereof under the value of $20,000, or less than 100 head of sheep, swine, or goats or any part thereof under the value of $20,000;

                        (B) regardless of value, the property is stolen from the person of another or from a human corpse or grave;

                        (C) the property stolen is a firearm, as defined by Section 46.01;       

                        (D) the value of the property stolen is less than $1,500 and the defendant has been previously convicted two or more times of any grade of theft; or

                        (E) the property stolen is an official ballot or official carrier envelope for an election;

            (5) a felony of the third degree if the value of the property stolen is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000, or the property is:

                        (A) 10 or more head of cattle, horses, or exotic livestock or exotic fowl as defined by Section 142.001, Agriculture Code, stolen during a single transaction and having an aggregate value of less than $100,000; or

                        (B) 100 or more head of sheep, swine, or goats stolen during a single transaction and having an aggregate value of less than $100,000;

            (6) a felony of the second degree if the value of the property stolen is $100,000 or more but less than $200,000; or

            (7) a felony of the first degree if the value of the property stolen is $200,000 or more.

(f) An offense described for purposes of punishment by Subsections (e)(1)-(6) is increased to the next higher category of offense if it is shown on the trial of the offense that:           

(1) the actor was a public servant at the time of the offense and the property appropriated came into the actor's custody, possession, or control by virtue of his status as a public servant;

            (2) the actor was in a contractual relationship with government at the time of the offense and the property appropriated came into the actor's custody, possession, or control by virtue of the contractual relationship; or

            (3) the owner of the property appropriated was at the time of the offense an elderly individual.

(g) For the purposes of Subsection (a), a person is the owner of exotic livestock or exotic fowl as defined by Section 142.001, Agriculture Code, only if the person qualifies to claim the animal under Section 142.0021, Agriculture Code, if the animal is an estray.

(h) In this section:                                                          

            (1) "Restricted-use pesticide" means a pesticide classified as a restricted-use pesticide by the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under 7 U.S.C. Section 136a, as that law existed on January 1, 1995, and containing an active ingredient listed in the federal regulations adopted under that law (40 C.F.R. Section 152.175) and in effect on that date.

            (2) "State-limited-use pesticide" means a pesticide classified as a state-limited-use pesticide by the Department of Agriculture under Section 76.003, Agriculture Code, as that section existed on January 1, 1995, and containing an active ingredient listed in the rules adopted under that section (4 TAC Section 7.24) as that section existed on that date.

(i) For purposes of Subsection (c)(9), "livestock" and "commission merchant" have the meanings assigned by Section 147.001, Agriculture Code.

(j) With the consent of the appropriate local county or district attorney, the attorney general has concurrent jurisdiction with that consenting local prosecutor to prosecute an offense under this section that involves the state Medicaid program.

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Comments (6) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
G. Wade - May 23, 2008 12:13 AM

I was recently arrested for Felony Theft. One of my associates got caught stealing some containers by pulling them off of the docks. He told the police that I paid him to do it. I know that I can be charged with any crime. I recently recieved a statement from this associates saying I had nothing to do with moving any containers. Can you give me any opinion about this kind of theft case. I just my main question would be how can I steal a container when I do not have anything type of truck to move a container. In fact I do not even know how to drive a 18 Wheeler. Thanks for any opinion.

G. Wade - May 23, 2008 12:15 AM

I was recently arrested for Felony Theft. One of my associates got caught stealing some containers by pulling them off of the docks. He told the police that I paid him to do it. I know that I can be charged with any crime. I recently recieved a statement from this associates saying I had nothing to do with moving any containers. Can you give me any opinion about this kind of theft case. I just my main question would be how can I steal a container when I do not have anything type of truck to move a container. In fact I do not even know how to drive a 18 Wheeler. Thanks for any opinion.

Debbie - July 9, 2008 10:57 PM

So, ex BF put my property in a storage unit under his lawyer's advice due to a domestic abuse/protective order agreement. He removed my property the same day I made a payment, so what do I need to do to in order to prove that he's stolen from me? How do I prove that the belongings in a storage unit are mine when the unit was under his and my name? And how can I get the storage unit to show proof that He was the one to take my property and not the facility who disposed of it?

James - July 16, 2010 10:44 PM

We were shopping at a Market Basket when someone from the meat department grabbed my wife's buggie and started accusing her of shoplifting. We were nowhere near the exit or checkout. Without my knowledge my wife had placed some items in her purse but once I would have relized she had done this I would made her take them out so they could be paid for.
Was she considered shoplifting since we had not went to checkout and did the meat manager have the right to grab her purse and start taking things out of it?
The items in her purse were less than $40 but I was taught (through working at grocery stores that you cannot touch someone until they go out the door or the store or the store can be sued for false accusations because you do not know the intent of the person until they leave the store.
Please help me with this as I have been taught one Texas Law but Market Basket seemed to operate by their own law or rules.

kym - September 11, 2010 1:46 PM

Can a person be charged with theft of services if they purchase product with a downpayment and agree on a contract to pay an additional three more payments of equal amounts for the next three months. They stop the additional payments to the merchant?

Kevin Musgrove - August 25, 2011 5:57 PM

Regarding Texas code, Does theft over $1500 but less than $20.000 fall under the Federal exemption from owning a firearm concerning antitrust law, 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(20)(A); and 2). Which states, "The only felonies that are not covered by the federal gun ban are 1)
those “pertaining to antitrust violations, unfair trade practices, restraints of trade, or other
similar offenses relating to the regulation of business practices,” per 18 U.S.C. §
921(a)(20)(A); and 2) felony convictions from foreign countries, per Small v. United
States, --- U.S. ---, 2005 WL 946620 (April 26, 2005).

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