Nearly everyone understands that stealing is against the law. However, many people do not realize that in Texas, even relatively minor thefts can have serious consequences for people who have been convicted of prior offenses.
Take, for example, the case of a 33-year-old man from Bryan who was recently arrested for attempting to steal a grill from a grocery store.
Last month, the man was spotted trying to leave an HEB with a barbeque pit that store employees suspected he had not paid for. When the employees asked for the man's receipt, he replied that his father had it. The father then said he didn't have a receipt, at which point the man was asked to come to the store office.
Instead, he fled the scene on foot. He was apprehended by police after running for several blocks.
Because the barbeque pit was worth less than $1,500, the man would have ordinarily been facing misdemeanor charges. However, he has two previous theft convictions - one from 2002 and another from 2007. As a result, his charges were bumped up to a state jail felony. He is now facing the possibility of two years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
This incident shows how the consequences of a criminal conviction can persist well after the initial sentence is served. Enhanced penalties for future offenses are just one of the potential long-term impacts of being convicted of a crime. In other cases, offenders may find that their convictions disqualify them from eligibility for professional licenses or student loans.
It is extremely important to understand all of the possible consequences of a criminal conviction. If you stand accused of a crime in Texas, make sure to discuss these issues with your defense attorney.
Source: The Eagle, "BPD: Barbeque pit theft upgraded to felony because of prior convictions," July 19, 2012.