Mail Theft Texas
With the rising popularity of online shopping, package theft or mail theft is also becoming more common. A charge of mail theft in Texas can lead to prosecution under both state and federal law. In the long term, a theft conviction can impact job and educational opportunities and lead to other lost opportunities. At Peveto Law, we understand the intricacies of this area and help those facing mail or package theft charges understand their legal rights and options.
Mail theft under Texas law
Mail theft is not specifically identified in the Texas Penal Code. Instead, section 31.03 covers many forms of property theft. In short, a theft takes place under Texas law whenever a person takes something that does not belong to him or her without the permission of the owner or without legal justification. Under this broad wording, stealing packages or other mail is theft.
Texas mail theft punishment
In the case of theft under Texas law, the value of the stolen property is a key factor in the severity of the criminal charge. This can be tricky for those charged with mail theft because the value is often not truly known until after the theft occurs. If the stolen package only contained an item worth less than $100, the accused may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and face a fine of up to $500. At the other end of the spectrum, if the property is worth more than $300,000, the charge could be a first-degree felony, carrying a potential sentence of life in prison.
Some actions could enhance the punishment. For example, if someone has stolen multiple packages in a single episode, the values could be aggregated to reach a higher charge. The punishment could also be enhanced if the theft was a part of a crime circle. Texas criminalizes Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity under Texas Penal Code 71.02. Under that statute, those who commit theft to share in the profits with others or as part of a criminal street gang can be charged under one category higher than the underlying theft itself.
If you are potentially going to be charged with package or mail theft, it is beneficial to speak with a TX criminal defense attorney as soon as possible because there may be room to work with the prosecutors to minimize the charges or even avoid them altogether. At Peveto Law, we work tirelessly to minimize the impact that theft accusations will have on our clients’ lives.
Mail and package theft under federal law
Though it not always worth their time for smaller cases, prosecutors do not need to pick and choose between state and federal charges of mail theft. A defendant can face both for the same alleged event.
Under Chapter 18, Section 1708 of the United States Code, a person who steals a package or an item of mail delivered by a mail carrier or left in a designated delivery area can be charged with a federal crime. The penalty can include up to five years imprisonment, fines of up to $250,000, or both. It is helpful to speak with a Texas theft defense attorney if you may be charged. This is the best way to protect your rights and options throughout the process.
Mail theft Texas defense
There are several ways to respond to a theft charge. The first is to attack the evidence in order to show that the accused defendant was not the perpetrator. The second is to negotiate a plea agreement for a reduced mail theft penalty.
At Peveto Law, we explore every avenue of defense, including mistaken identity and lapses in the state’s evidence. In the case of mail theft, it is becoming more common for surveillance video to capture the event in question. When the video is helpful, we make sure it is put to good use for your defense. When it is not, we advocate for a plea deal to receive a reduced penalty. In some cases, jail time can be completely avoided in exchange for probation, community service, or fines.
Consult with a Texas mail theft lawyer
Theft charges need to be addressed as soon as possible. The likelihood of having the charges dropped or reduced are greatest at the beginning. If you are potentially facing state or federal charges for mail theft or package theft, do not wait to speak with a lawyer. At Peveto Law, we take theft charges seriously. We have providing clients in the Plano/DFW region with personalized but aggressive defense for over a decade. Call today to speak with a Texas theft lawyer.
Additional Texas mail theft resources:
- Texas Penal Code, Title 7. Offenses Against Property, Chapter 31. Theft, https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.31.htm
- Legal Information Institute, 18 U.S. Code §1708. Theft or receipt of stolen mail matter generally, https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1708
- Fox News, ‘Porch pirates’ targeted for harsher punishment in Texas lawmakers’ proposals, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/texas-lawmaker-want-stricter-punishment-for-porch-piracy-crimes-report