Theft Amount Classifications Changes Effective September 1, 2015

August 29, 2015

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

For the first time in 22 years, the Texas Legislature has adjusted the threshold values for theft cases to adjust for inflation.  Theft is a result-oriented offense and the value of the property stolen typically dictates the punishment level.  As of September 1, 2015, the amounts correlating to specific charges are as follows:

  • Less than $100 is a Class C misdemeanor (formerly less than $50).
  • $100 but less than $750 is a Class B misdemeanor (formerly between $50 and $500).
  • $750 but less than $2,500 is a Class A misdemeanor (formerly between $500 and $1,500).
  • $2,500 but less than $30,000 is a State Jail Felony (formerly between $1,500 and $20,000).
  • $30,000 but less than $150,000 is a 3rd Degree Felony (formerly $20,000 to $100,000)
  • $150,000 but less than $300,000 is a 2nd Degree Felony (formerly $200,000 to $300,000).
  • $300,000 or greater is a 1st Degree Felony (formerly over $200,000).

You can read about the punishment levels here.

Though all the changes have some impact, the two areas I expect to see the most impact will be adjusting Class C thefts up to $100 because this will have the effect of making many more shoplifting incidents (those between $50 and $100) more easily expungable and taking them out of the County Courts at Law.  Also significant is new difference between felony and Misdemeanor thefts (formerly $1,500 and now $2,500).  This will keep many people under the felony threshold as well.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas.  He is Board Certified in Criminal Law.  Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice for any situation you should contact an attorney directly.

Cops and Cameras

August 28, 2015

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

Cell phone video cameras in the hands of people at all levels of society have triggered dramatic changes in law enforcement over the past few years.

Police have been utilizing video and audio equipment for decades, normally affixed to their squad car.  The video has always been a great aid to both law enforcement and the citizens accused of offenses because it renders a clear and accurate depiction of what went on at the scene of the arrest. It protects officers from unfounded claims of brutality and harassment but also protects people from exaggerated criminal charges or claims in court.

So why is what we see on video now so much more dramatic than we’ve ever seen before?  Simply do a google search for “police brutality caught on tape” and you’ll see video after video of questionable conduct (or sometimes flagrant) police mis-conduct.

The simple answer is police are no longer in control of who, what, when and how incidents are video taped.  The cameraman has changed.

A squad car video has a limited lateral range.  For instance, when an officer has to leave his or her car and go to chase a suspect on foot or enter a house during a domestic call, the camera can’t follow though audio is often still available.  An officer has a good idea when they’re on and off camera based where they’re standing in relation to the car.

Police do have limited discretion when it comes to what gets recorded.  Virtually all squad cars cameras turn on when the over-head lights are triggered (barring technical malfunctions or very small police agencies).  Sometimes an officer turns off the audio recording.  Though this may be a no-no, it is very difficult to prove and most jurors are indifferent to such happenings.

Cell phone video cameras from citizens can record a police officer at any time, at any place and from any angle.  Unfortunately for police, the videos where people record an officer being professional and doing outstanding work don’t go viral.  The fact an officer can wake up any morning knowing by the end of their shift they could be on the cover must be undoubtedly unnerving.

Prudent officers must realize this new reality and should be on their best behavior at all times — not just when they know they’re actions are being recorded by their own equipment.  The vast majority already are.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is an attorney in McKinney, Texas.  He is Board Certified in Criminal Law.  Nothing in this blog should be considered legal advice.  For legal advice about any situation, you should contact an attorney directly.  Communications through this forum are not confidential.