Honorable Pete Gallego, Chair, House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence
John S O'Brien, Director, Legislative Budget Board
HB2326 by McClendon (Relating to the punishment for the offense of theft.), As Introduced
The bill would amend the Penal Code as it relates to the punishment for the offense of theft. Under the provisions of the bill, the threshold for the value of property stolen for both misdemeanor and certain felony punishment levels would be raised. Under current statute theft is punishable at all misdemeanor and most felony levels with punishment based on the value of property stolen or previous theft convictions. The bill would also expand the section of the Theft chapter as it relates to assessing value for property or service with value that cannot be reasonable ascertained for those charged with the offense of theft under Section 31.03, Penal Code.
Raising the threshold for the value of property stolen is expected to result in decreased demands upon the correctional resources of counties or of the State due to shorter terms of probation, or shorter terms of confinement in county jails or prison. When an offense is changed from a felony to a misdemeanor, there is a transfer of the burden of confinement of convicted offenders from the State to the counties. In fiscal year 2010, there were 79,401 arrests for theft subject to the provisions of the bill. Of those arrested for state jail felony theft (12,839 arrests) subject to the provisions of the bill, 2,010 offenders were placed on felony community supervision, and 1,490 were admitted to state jail for the offense of theft punishable as a state jail felony. In fiscal year 2010, there were 74 arrests in which the punishment for theft was enhanced to the next highest category of offense. Of those arrested for theft where the offense punishment was enhanced less than five were admitted to prison, less than five were admitted to state jail, and less than five were placed on felony or misdemeanor community supervision. The probable impact on criminal justice populations as a result of implementing the provisions of the bill cannot be determined because data collected at both the local and statewide level address only a range and do not address the actual amount stolen. Since the bill is raising the threshold for the value of property stolen for theft (misdemeanor and state jail felony) the impact on the state as a result of raising the threshold is likely to result in a decreased demand on the correctional resources of the state since offenders previously punished as state jail felons would now be punished as Class A misdemeanants.
JOB, GG, LM