Authorities recently accused a Texas woman of trying to steal a puppy. The pet shop states the pup, a rare type of American Bulldog, is worth approximately $10,000. Witnesses state the woman entered the pet store with her boyfriend to discuss the details of purchasing the 7-month old dog. The clerk states she shifted her attention to gather paperwork for UPS when the couple took the puppy and ran from the store. The clerk further claims that, in an attempt to get the pup back, she jumped on the couple’s vehicle. She states the couple drove off with her on the vehicle, stopped and forcefully removed her from the hood of their car.
Although a strange case, it provides two claims that stand out and presents an opportunity to discuss the intricacies of criminal charges in these types of cases.
- Value of the puppy. If the value of the canine was truly $10,000 the state could charge the accused with a state jail felony. Texas state law allows for this charge if theft of property is valued between $2,500 and $30,000.
- Use of the vehicle. The clerk also claims the accused attempted to run her over. If substantiated, this could increase the allegations to theft with a deadly weapon.
The details matter. Two important lessons from these details include the importance of the value of the property at issue and the presence of anything the state could consider a weapon. The value of the property plays an important role in determining the severity of criminal charges. The prosecution can also argue various things served as a weapon to further increase the charges. It does not have to be a traditional weapon like a gun or knife. In this case, the prosecution will likely try to argue the accused used the vehicle as a weapon to further the commission of the alleged crime.
It is important to keep these and other considerations in mind when tailoring a defense strategy to these types of allegations.