By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Theft is regarded in Texas as a “crime of moral turpitude” unlike driving while intoxicated or drug possession.
Crimes of moral turpitude have far-reaching collateral consequences that can almost be incalculable ranging from denial of professional licensing, to federal immigration consequences, to being impeached in future legal proceedings.
Theft is beatable in court. There are also ways of getting the theft charge off your record through probation programs by agreement.
There is no one comprehensive list of crimes of moral turpitude and there is no universally agreed upon definition, but theft has been held to be one and is squarely within what courts have defined to be crimes of moral turpitude in the past. Milligan v. State, 554 S.W.2d 192 (Tex.Crim.App. 1977).
What this means is that EVERY theft case is a big deal regardless of whether it’s shoplifting a pack of gum or multimillion dollar embezzlement. When dealing with any type of theft or shoplifting charge, it is always critical to consult an attorney who can attack your legal problem with the long range vision of keeping your future goals in-tact.
Even taking deferred adjudication on theft or shoplifting cases can have collateral consequences that are unforeseen. For instance the federal government or other states may not necessarily accept your texas deferred adjudication on theft and they could conceivably treat deferred as a conviction. Also, many civil administrative and occupational Texas statutes may come into play with regards to your job and profession — and those statutes are subject to change years after your case was completed.
Unfortunately, many people who took a quick and easy deal when they were younger to either save money on hiring a lawyer or because they didn’t think it was a big deal — find out years later when they lose an important opportunity. For a theft or shoplifting case, regardless of how small, you should get a lawyer!
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.