A man surrendered to the Denton police recently on the grounds of felony theft by a public servant. The man is accused of stealing nearly $34,000 in cash from the city’s animal shelter. The city of Denton discovered this man’s behavior while reviewing the city’s daily deposits from October 2015 to July 2016. As a result of these charges, the man was also fired from his job. Because the man was a city employee at the time that he completed the offense, the charges become elevated to a second degree felony. Due to these charges, the man could face two years and no more than 20 years in prison with a maximum fine of $10,000. This event highlights an excellent example of charges for theft by a public servant, which is a heightened type of theft charge which occurs all too often in the state of Texas.
Texas law considers theft by a public servant to occur when two elements are satisfied:
- An individual is acting in the role of a public servant at the time of the theft, and
- The property that is stolen came into the individual’s custody, possession, or control through the individual’s role as a public servant.
Individuals can also face similar charges if the individual had a contractual relationship with the government at the time of the offense and the property that was stolen came into the individual’s possession as a result of this contract. These offenses are subject to a 10-year statute of limitation, which means that charges against an individual must be brought within 10 years of the offense or 10 years within when the theft was first noticed.
Individuals in the state of Texas who are convicted of theft by a public servant are subject to a third degree felony, which can result between two to 10 years in a state prison and a fine of not more than $10,000. Repeat offenders are frequently subject to even more severe penalties.
There are a few limited ways in which individuals are able to defend against a theft by public servant charge. One of these defenses is if the defendant can demonstrate that they believed the property in question was theirs or that the defendant had claim to the property. This defense will require the defendant to present evidence to the court that supports this argument. Another common defense is arguing that the defendant returned the property in question. This strategy can prevent charges from being raised or lessen resulting charges.
The Assistance of a Denton County Criminal Defense Attorney
Facing theft charges can be a particularly frightening process, especially when one performs the theft while in the position of a public servant. One of the best strategies to respond to such a charge is to retain an experienced attorney like the legal counsel at Wheeler Law Office who can make sure your rights and interests are protected.
(image courtesy of Nhandler)