catfishing

Can “Catfishing” Land You in Jail?

The use of the Internet has created another world in which many people choose to hide behind their computers. Speaking with others online requires no proof that you are who you say you are. It is this ability to hide one’s identity that has led many people to partake in what is known as “catfishing,” or luring someone else into a relationship by using a false identity or persona. 

While it may seem somewhat benign, responding to someone who is catfishing you can put you in jail if you physically engage with the underage individual – whether you were aware of their true age or not. 

The Age of Consent

In Texas, an individual must be 17 to provide legal consent to engage in sexual activity with another individual. In other words, individuals under the age of 17 are unable to make such a decision under the law. Therefore even if the sexual activity was completely consensual – or even initiated by the underage person – it is considered statutory rape. 

While engaging in any type of sexual activity with anyone under the age of 17 is completely illegal, the exact age of that person can make a difference when it comes to what you could be charged with. For instance, if you engage in sexual activity with someone who is under 17 but older than 14, it is considered a second-degree felony called indecency with a child or sexual assault and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Conversely, if you engage in sexual activity with someone under the age of 14, it is considered a first-degree felony and can be punishable by up to life in person. 

But what happens when someone falsely claims that they are 17 or older and you acted based upon your belief that they were telling the truth?

Unfortunately, this is not a rare incident when it comes to communication on the Internet. Children under the age of 17 sometimes claim to be older than they are to receive the attention of an adult with whom they are communicating. 

This is a big problem in that not knowing a minor’s age is not a valid legal defense to a sex crime charge in the state of Texas. In other words, even if you did not know the minor’s true age you could still be charged with a sex crime. 

Online Solicitation of a Minor

A similar sex crime is an online solicitation of a minor. State law holds that it is a third-degree felony to solicit a minor online to engage in sexual activity. Such a crime may be punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Sometimes undercover police officers pretend to be minors to catch individuals looking to solicit minors for sexual activity. 

There are various defenses to these charges. It’s important to note that under Texas’ “Romeo and Juliet Law,” the charge may be dropped if the older individual of the two engaged in sexual activity is no more than 3 years older than the other who is at least 15. 

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Have Been Charged with a Sex Crime

If you have been charged with a sex crime in Texas, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney.

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the repercussions that such a serious criminal charge and conviction can have on your life. That’s why we will work to help you obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

insanity criminal defense

Is Insanity a Defense to a Criminal Conviction?

From being at another place at the same time to being drugged by someone else, there are various defenses to an accusation of a crime. But what if someone did commit a crime, but was not aware that doing so was wrong because of mental illness or defect? Can he or she be held morally blameless from being convicted? Can someone plead not guilty by reason of insanity? Yes, they can and this is known as the insanity defense. The insanity defense exists so that we may ensure the fairness of our legal system.  

Although this affirmative defense is available in Texas, it’s not widely used. This is likely because the standard for proving insanity for purposes of the law is very strict. Someone can be found to be medically insane but not legally insane. 

A Successful Insanity Defense is not the Same as a Finding of Innocence

However, being found not guilty by reason of mental disease and defect is not the same thing as being found innocent. Even if someone is found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect (the insanity defense), he or she will not simply get to go home. Instead, they will be sent to a mental hospital where they can remain for up to the same amount of time, as they would have been imprisoned. 

The M’Naghten Rule

So how does Texas determine if someone was insane at the time that the crime was committed? The state follows a test known as the M’Naghten Rule, which is named for the case in which the insanity defense originated. There are two parts of this test that come down to the defendant’s cognitive abilities:

  1. Whether the accused knew the act that he or she was committing; and
  2. Whether the accused knew that his or her actions were wrong. 

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals later clarified this rule, stating that the defendant must be able to prove that he or she was in an “extreme delusional state [which] caused [him or her] to misperceive the very nature of [his or her] acts, or to believe that in acting, [he or she was] obeying rather than violating the laws of society. 

In other words, the defendant must be able to show sound evidence of mental disease or defect – that he or she did not know what he or she was doing and that it was wrong. While the prosecution must prove that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to convict, the defendant only needs to prove insanity by a preponderance of the evidence (it is more likely than not that he or she was insane at the time the crime was committed).

Even after the M’Naghten test has been met through the production of evidence, it can still be difficult for the defendant to be successful. This is because, under Texas criminal law, the court, State attorney, and Defense attorney are prohibited from telling the jury or prospective jury what could happen if an insanity defense was successful. Since many people believe that being found not guilty by mental disease or defect is the same thing as innocent and would let them walk free, an insanity defense can be difficult to win. 

Providing Notice of Intent

When a defendant is going to raise an insanity defense he or she must provide notice of this intent, as well as a certification that a copy of this notice was served on the State attorney. 

The notice must be filed a minimum of 20 days before the start of the trial unless there is a pretrial hearing before such 20-day period. If the latter takes place, the defendant must provide notice at the hearing. If the defendant fails to properly provide notice, evidence of insanity will not be admissible in court. 

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Have Been Charged with a Crime

If you have been charged with a crime in Texas but the facts of the case show that you were suffering from a mental disease or defect at the time that you committed the crime, you may have an insanity defense. 

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the importance of a fair trial and legal system. That’s why we will work to help you obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

probation

What Happens if You Violate Your Texas Probation?

When you plead guilty to committing a crime, sometimes you will be sent to prison for a specific period and sometimes you may receive probation, a program in which you forgo prison and are instead put under community supervision. 

You may be placed on either an active or inactive type of supervision with probation. With the active type of supervision, you must meet with a probation officer regularly and will be placed under more severe restrictions than those placed on an inactive type.

Violating your probation in Texas can have serious consequences. It may undo all of the progress that you have made in putting your criminal history behind you. Sometimes, the court will extend the term of your probation, but other times it will even assess a prison or jail sentence. 

Regardless of the outcome, it can be a very troubling situation when you violate any court-ordered supervision. Here is what can happen should you violate your probation.

What Constitutes a Violation of Probation in TX?

When you are put on probation, you must adhere to certain rules and restrictions for the duration of your sentence. It is when you fail to do so that you violate your probation. Those who are on probation are still serving a criminal sentence and should therefore take their requirements very seriously. 

Requirements of Probation

While every case is different and the judge can make his or her own decision on the terms and requirements of your probation, certain factors are taken into consideration:

  • The type of crime you committed
  • The severity of the crime
  • Whether putting you on probation puts the safety of the community at risk

Depending upon the specifics of the above factors, you may be faced with any of the following terms of probation:

  • Paying fees
  • Paying court costs
  • Regularly meeting with a court-assigned probation officer
  • Specific community service
  • Completing an alcohol or drug treatment program
  • Adhering to random alcohol and/or drug tests
  • Having restrictions placed on your travel
  • Paying restitution to any victims of your crime
  • Avoiding being arrested for another crime during your probation sentence
  • Forfeiting any legally-owned firearms

Consequences of Violating Your Probation

When you have been found to violate your probation, you will be placed under arrest and will either be held without bond until a revocation hearing or released on bond.

At a revocation hearing, the prosecutor will attempt to prove that you violated your probation. He or she will use evidence to demonstrate this. The judge will listen to the prosecutor as well as you and your attorney. You are not entitled to a jury to decide whether the terms of your probation have been violated. 

If the judge finds that there was no violation, you will typically be free to finish your probation. However, if the judge agrees with the prosecutor, finding that you have violated your probation, he or she can choose to add more restrictions to your probation or even revoke your probation and send you to jail. 

Is there a difference between violating regular probation and deferred probation?

Deferred adjudication probation is special probation that will often allow a defendant to get his records sealed (and avoid a final conviction) if the probation is successfully completed. In many cases, deferred adjudication probation is preferable to regular probation for this reason. 

One drawback of deferred adjudication probation is that it can allow the judge to assess a longer sentence in the event the probation is not completed successfully. When a person is on regular (not deferred adjudication) probation, the maximum sentence is capped at whatever the probated sentence is. For example, if the judge placed you on regular probation for 3rd-degree felony DWI by giving you five years in prison “probated” for five years, the maximum prison sentence you can receive would be five years, in the event that you violate your probation. 

With deferred adjudication probation, on the other hand, the judge has the full range of punishment available and could sentence you for up to 10 years in the above example (since the maximum sentence for a 3rd-degree felony is 10 years). This is why it can be riskier to accept deferred adjudication probation.  

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Have Been Charged with Violating Their Probation

If you or a loved one is facing allegations that you have violated your probation, it is extremely important that you consult with a qualified Texas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A criminal defense attorney can help you to fight these charges so that you can continue to put your criminal past behind you and move forward. 

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the seriousness of such a charge and the short- and long-term impact that it can have on the rest of your life. That’s why we will work to help you obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

shaking hands with defense attorney

The Texas Castle Doctrine and the Right to Defend Your Property

It makes sense that you have the right to protect yourself when someone else is attacking you, but what about when someone is on your property – do you have the right to protect yourself then? In Texas, you have the right to protect yourself when someone else is on your property. However, there are some limitations to this under what is called the Castle Doctrine.

It’s important that you understand what these limitations under the Castle Doctrine are so that you can ensure that you don’t take any illegal actions.

What Does the Texas Castle Doctrine Protect?

Under Texas law, it is legally permissible for someone to use force in certain circumstances when that person does not have a duty to retreat.

For example, in Texas, a homeowner doesn’t have a duty to retreat from his or her own property. Therefore he or she can use force in order to protect himself or herself from someone who intrudes upon their property. This is also true for a business owner in his or her place of business.

 Under Texas law, self-defense is allowed when:

  • An individual reasonably believes that deadly force was necessary
  • An individual was legally allowed to be on the property
  • The individual who is claiming self-defense did not provoke the other person
  • The individual wasn’t committing criminal activity when he or she used deadly force

But what actually constitutes self-defense? Someone can use force against another person if the former believes that it’s necessary to protect him or her from the other’s attempted or actual use of (illegal) force.

Deadly Force vs. Self-Defense

Under Texas law, someone can is legally allowed to use deadly force against someone else when they: 

  • Believe that the intruder is trying to rob, kidnap, sexually assault, or murder them
  • Was aware that the intruder entered their home, vehicle, or place of business illegally and by force
  • Believe that they are being or have already been kidnapped

Can You Legally Protect Someone Else with Deadly Force?

In certain instances, someone can use deadly force to defend another person. If the person impacted would be legally justified in using deadly force, then you can legally do it for them. But it’s important to ensure that you have the right to use force, otherwise, you can be criminally charged should someone else become injured or should die as a result of your actions. You can’t defend someone who is responsible. Therefore, you can’t defend a friend who is in a fight with someone else by using deadly force if they were the one who started it to begin with. 

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Have Been Charged with a Crime

If you have been charged with a crime in Texas, it is important to take the situation very seriously – even if you were acting in self-defense.

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the serious nature of criminal charges and the impact that it can have on your life. That’s why we will work to help you obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

criminal defense attorney with client

What Does the Term ‘Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’ Actually Mean?

If you’ve ever seen a movie or television show that featured a courtroom scene, you’ve likely heard the term, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” So what does this term, used in criminal trials, actually mean?

The term, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” is used as a standard of proof necessary for prosecutors to meet for a defendant to be found guilty of a crime. Since the law views all defendants as innocent until proven guilty, the prosecution must demonstrate through the facts and evidence of the case that he or she was the individual who committed the crime. Therefore it stands that if after the prosecution presents its evidence the judge or jury has reasonable doubt as to whether the defendant did indeed commit the crime, the accused cannot be found guilty.

If not for this term, individuals could be found guilty of crimes even if there were other reasonable possibilities as to how the crime occurred. But this is not to say that judges or juries can’t have any doubts; just that these doubts may not be reasonable. So what exactly makes doubt reasonable?

Defining and Differentiating Reasonable Doubt

Under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, each individual must be given his or her fair trial. The reason for this is because it is viewed as far worse to falsely convict an innocent person than to let ten guilty people walk free. That’s why the reasonable doubt standard is the highest standard of proof that is used in criminal trials. 

In the past, Texas used to provide a definition of proof beyond a reasonable doubt to jurors but it does not do so anymore. Although jurors are given some guidance as to the standard of proof, jury instructions do not specifically define proof beyond a reasonable doubt. A smart criminal defense attorney will often compare proof beyond a reasonable doubt to other standards of proof, and point out that it is even more demanding than the proof needed to win a civil suit (preponderance), arrest someone (probable cause) or take away someone’s children (clear and convincing evidence).

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Have Been Accused of Committing a Crime

If you have been convicted of a crime in Texas, it can require an aggressive defense lawyer to successfully defend your rights and ensure that you have the best chances of having your charges dismissed or even dropped entirely. This is why it’s so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Texas criminal defense attorney

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the repercussions that a criminal conviction can have on your life. That’s why we will work to help you obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

Empty pistol with bullets

Is it Ever Against the Law to Carry a Firearm in TX?

When people think of Texas they often think of amazing BBQ, big hair, the Alamo, and football as a way of life. But what many others often associate with Texas is its strong advocacy for the Second Amendment’s Right to Bear Arms. 

Whether it’s for hunting, target shooting, or protection; many residents of the Lone Star State have a license to carry weapons. But while guns are allowed in many places, there are specific situations in which it is still illegal to carry a firearm in Texas.

5 Situations Where Carrying a Firearm Is Illegal

1. Minors, Felons, and Those Convicted of Domestic Violence

Under the Texas Penal Code, you are prohibited from owning a gun if you:

  • Have been convicted of a felony
  • Are currently under a domestic violence restraining order
  • Are here under a non-immigrant visa
  • Were dishonorably discharged from the military
  • Are under the age of 18 (for rifles) or 21 (for handguns)

While it’s illegal for a minor to own a firearm, minors may still use firearms for hunting or protection. 

2. Gun-Free Zones

If you are in a gun-free zone, you may not carry your weapon – even though you have a license. Such zones are located at the following:

  • Public school property
  • Places of school activity
  • College campuses (that have established gun-free zones)
  • Government court buildings
  • Racetracks
  • Most bars
  • Polling places
  • Airports
  • Hospitals
  • Prisons
  • Businesses that bring in more than 50% of their income from selling alcohol
  • Businesses that have established gun-free zones

However, it should be noted that you could still carry your guns if you are in the process of going to or from your home. 

3. If You’re Intoxicated

There’s a reason why you aren’t allowed to carry your weapon within bars or businesses that derive more than half of their income from alcohol sales. It’s never a good idea to have a gun on you when you drink. Therefore if you are planning on drinking you may not carry a firearm. If you become intoxicated you are no longer permitted to carry your gun. 

If you are charged with a DUI, your sentence can greatly increase for also having a firearm on you at the time. 

4. Unlicensed (Depending on the Circumstances)

Generally speaking, you don’t need a permit to carry your weapons on your own property or in your own boat or car while traveling. However, if you are walking anywhere you cannot bring a firearm without first obtaining a license. To obtain a license you must be a state resident and pass a background check. However, even if you have a license to carry, you must still carry your weapon in a shoulder holster or belt – never in your hands. If you intentionally show your handgun while in a public area, you can be charged with unlawfully carrying a firearm. If you are on foot without a license, you can be charged with the same. 

5. If You’re a Member of a Criminal Gang

Under Texas law, you are also prohibited from carrying a firearm if you are suspected of being a member of a criminal gang. Even those who aren’t gang members can be charged if you are mistaken as one by police. You can be arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon. 

So how do police determine if you are a member of a criminal gang? For you to be a member of a criminal gang, you would have to be a part of a group of at least three people who regularly commit criminal acts. Additionally, for a group to be considered a criminal gang you must have an identifiable leader as well as some type of sign, tattoo, logo, etc. 

Penalties 

Unlawfully carrying a weapon is considered a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. However, if you are carrying your firearm in an area that serves alcoholic beverages, your charge can be upgraded to a third-degree felony.

Penalties for Class A Misdemeanors:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Fines of up to $4,000
  • Potential community service
  • Potential probation period

Penalties for Third-Degree Felonies include harsher penalties than the aforementioned, and you will be banned from lawfully purchasing or carrying a firearm again. 

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Desire to Have Their Criminal Record Sealed

If you have been convicted of a crime in Texas but desire to have your record sealed, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal law attorney.

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the repercussions that a criminal conviction can have on your life. That’s why we will work to help you obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

Man in handcuffs for criminal mischief

What Is a Criminal Mischief Charge?

As more and more protests occur across the U.S., people on both sides have begun to engage in what would ordinarily be considered criminal behavior. But without a better plan in place, police officers in Texas have often arrested people and charged them with criminal mischief. But what is criminal mischief anyway?

Criminal mischief can be looked at as an umbrella term for a number of different criminal acts, which vary greatly in terms of severity. Under the Texas Penal Code, the definition of criminal mischief adds up to the willful destruction of another’s personal property. So for example, in many cities across the country a lot of city property has been destroyed and looting has occurred. 

Other acts of criminal mischief include:

Vandalism 

Another form of criminal mischief that has been widely occurring is vandalism. Vandalism is the defacing of property that you do not own regardless of whether or not it’s public. Acts of vandalism include graffiti, tearing down street signs, and any other type of damages to another’s property. The higher the value of the property vandalized, the more serious the crime can become.  

Rioting

As mentioned, many of the recent protests have turned into riots. Riots involve the damage of property that is not yours. Regardless of the reason, if you are found to have participated in a riot, you can face criminal mischief charges.

Pranks

Even pranks can be considered criminal mischief depending upon damages they cause. For instance, while you may think that egging someone’s house is a simple joke, if it causes damage to the house you will be responsible for the damages and charged with criminal mischief. 

Penalties

The penalty for criminal mischief changes based upon the cost that it would take to repair the damage. Therefore penalties for criminal mischief can range from a Class C misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. Again, it depends upon the value of the damage you have caused.

Damage to property amounting to:

  • Less than $100 – Class C Misdemeanor with up to $500 in fines
  • $100-$750 – Class B Misdemeanor with up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000
  • $750-$2,500 – Class A Misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000
  • $2,500-$30,000 – State Jail Felony with 180 days to 2 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000
  • $30,000-$150,000 – Third Degree Felony with 2-10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000
  • $150,000-$300,000 – Second Degree Felony with 2-20 year in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000
  • Greater than $300,000 – First Degree Felony with 5-99 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when you are passionately protesting or playing a prank on a neighbor. But it’s extremely important to keep in mind that the value of the damage you do can very quickly add up. The best thing to do is to avoid damaging any property that doesn’t belong to you. 

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Desire to Have Been Charged with Criminal Mischief

If you have been charged with criminal mischief in Texas, a conviction could greatly impact your life – even long-term. This is why it’s so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal law attorney.

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the repercussions that a criminal conviction can have on your life. That’s why we will work to help you obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

Woman in a relationship with domestic violence.

When Does Domestic Violence Become a Felony?

Domestic violence – known under Texas law as Assault Family Violence –  is one of the most common types of offenses. Domestic violence can either be considered a misdemeanor or a felony, which can impact your consequences. But how do we determine the classification of each incident?

Domestic violence includes either physical or sexual violence of someone in a dating relationship (or former relationship) with the accused. This can include:

  • Boyfriends
  • Girlfriends
  • Fiances
  • Spouses
  • Dates
  • Person who resides under the same roof as the victim
  • Person with whom the victim has a child

Sometimes this can also include violence between those previously engaged in a relationship (e.g. ex-spouses) or between those who previously lived together (ex-roommates). 

What Does Domestic Violence Look Like?

There are many different acts of domestic violence. They can include:

  • Pushing
  • Shoving
  • Hitting someone with an object
  • Throwing an object at someone
  • Punching
  • Choking
  • Slapping

In other words, domestic violence crimes are those ordinarily considered assault, when not involving anyone in the special class of defendants. But while domestic violence is completely wrong, sometimes those accused of such acts are up against a tough system that sometimes finds them guilty before proven innocent. 

False Allegations

As serious as domestic violence is, sometimes those involved in contentious divorce or custody cases present false allegations as a means to get what they want out of the situation by painting the other party in a really bad light. 

Arrests without Evidence

Since domestic violence is so prevalent and widely understood, many law enforcement agencies may arrest a defendant with minimal – or no – evidence such as clear injuries or witnesses. Often law enforcement may rely merely on the victim’s statement. 

Lack of Due Process

Since law enforcement often moves quickly when arresting those accused of domestic violence, many times the defendants are immediately placed in jail for a period of time, have orders of protection granted against them, and are subsequently forced out of their homes and normal routines. 

The prosecutor may decide to press on with charges on behalf of the State of Texas even if the alleged victim refuses to cooperate. In such a case he or she will have to demonstrate credible evidence that can be obtained on his or her own.

Felony vs. Misdemeanor

Depending on the allegations, the case will either be filed a misdemeanor. Most first-time domestic violence cases are misdemeanors. However, a case can be a felony where a defendant has a prior conviction for assault family violence, there is an allegation of choking or an allegation that a deadly weapon was used. 

While misdemeanors usually have a maximum sentence of up to twelve months in jail as well as a fine, felony convictions generally have more severe penalties, such as longer incarceration and higher fines. 

In addition to possible jail or prison time, alleged abusers are often required to participate in a domestic violence intervention program or to take anger management classes. In other cases, a defendant may be ordered to complete a community service requirement, pay a fine, and follow an order of protection. 

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Facing Felony Charges of Domestic Violence

If you or a loved one is facing allegations of domestic violence, no matter the classification, it is extremely important that you consult with a qualified Texas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A criminal defense attorney can help you to fight these charges, negotiate a plea deal, minimize jail time, and build a solid defense. Additionally, if your rights have been violated, an attorney may be able to help you to get the charges dismissed. 

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the seriousness of such a criminal charge and the impact that it can have on the rest of your life. That’s why we will work to help you obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

Man committing petty theft.

Are Shoplifting and Petty Theft the Same Thing?

Texas, like most states, determines the classification and punishment of a theft offense, like petty theft or shoplifting, and based upon the value of what is stolen and sometimes the type of property that has been stolen. 

What is Petty Theft?

Texas state law defines petty theft as those crimes that involve smaller amounts of property stolen. Therefore when someone shoplifts, it doesn’t always classify as petty theft. Each instance is dependent upon the value of the property that has been stolen as well as the defendant’s criminal record. 

However, there are various types of shoplifting theft offenses, including the following:

 

1. Misdemeanor Theft

 

One of the most common shoplifting charges is misdemeanor theft, which falls into three categories

  • Class C – The value of stolen property is less than $50.
  • Class B – The value of stolen property is between $50 and $500.
  • Class A – The value of the stolen property is between $500 and $1,500.

2. State Jail Felony Theft

 

 

When the value of the stolen property falls between $1,500 and $20,000 you may be charged with a state jail felony. If convicted you can face imprisonment in a state jail for anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. Additionally, you can face fines of up to $10,000. 

 

3. Felony Theft

 

The most serious charge that a shoplifter can face is felony theft in the third, second, or first degree. Felony theft is rather uncommon in shoplifting cases due to the high value of the property stolen. However, if a shoplifter takes something of very high value or steals from the same retailer multiple times, they could face this charge. 

  • Third Degree – The value of the stolen property is between $20,000 and $100,000.
  • Second Degree – The value of the stolen property is between $100,000 and $200,000.
  • First Degree – The value of the stolen property is $200,000 or more.

Criminal History Makes an Impact

It is also important to understand that an individual’s criminal history can make an impact on both the charges and penalties for shoplifting, resulting in increased penalties. Aside from facing possible jail time and paying large fines, a criminal conviction for theft of any kind can impact your future indefinitely, from difficulty securing a job to finding housing. It can also irreparably damage your reputation.

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Have Been Charged with a Theft Offense

If you have been charged with a theft offense in Texas, it is important to take the situation very seriously.

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the serious nature of such a criminal charge and the impact that it can have on your life. That’s why we will work to help you obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

Man meeting with his probation officer.

Defining Probation in Houston

Probation is a court-ordered sanction that someone is put on when they have been. When an individual is placed on probation, he or she is still allowed to remain in the community but must report to a probation officer. It is important to note that this option is not always on the table. Some crimes do not allow for this choice and the offender is ordered straight to jail or prison. 

The conditions vary depending upon each case. Such conditions may include:

  • Reporting to an officer
  • Fines
  • Counseling
  • Community Service
  • Restitution
  • Restrictions on drugs
  • Restrictions on alcohol
  • Restrictions on weapons
  • Jail time

Types

There are two types of probation. The first involves serving time in jail and then being placed on probation once you have completed your time there. Sometimes though the time spent in jail is lessened because the offender will be placed on probation. The other type uses it as an alternative to jail. It can actually last longer than jail time, so jail is sometimes preferable to certain offenders. 

It is used in order to ensure the safety of the greater public. Sometimes people break their probation by not complying with the conditions that have been made mandatory as part of it. When an individual violates their probation they are sent back in front of the judge free citation generator who may send him or her to jail or prison as a result

Probation Officers

The job of a probation officer is to supervise and check in on (often by meeting) with the individual who is on probation. These officers have many job duties such as the following:

  • Overseeing the individual’s rehabilitation
  • Preparing reports that the court will utilize
  • Visiting the home of the individual 
  • Monitoring the individual to ensure compliance
  • Assessing the individual for risks that they may pose
  • Assessing the individual for needs they should have met
  • Ensuring that the individual has access to any services he or she may need
  • Administering drug tests
  • Supporting the individual in moving in a productive direction

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Have Been Charged with a Crime

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the seriousness of a criminal charge and the impact that it can have on your life. That’s why we will work to help you obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, today!