The charges for mail theft in Texas range from a class A misdemeanor to a first-degree felony, and some people think the penalties are too extreme. Depending on the details of an alleged mail theft, an individual could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for stealing packages.
House Bill 37
In 2019, Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed House Bill 37, which made mail theft a crime that can be enforced by state authorities. Before the bill was signed, there was no distinction in state criminal law between regular property crime and mail theft. If a person took a package off someone’s porch, that person would be charged for theft based on the value of what they stole. Now, a person could potentially go to prison for a decade after stealing packages filled with items not even worth $100.
Factors that increase penalties
Mail theft could be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on a few factors. One of the issues that could aggravate a charge for mail theft is the intent to steal identifying information. If a person just swipes a box to get whatever is in it, that’s not as serious of a crime as if a person is accused of stealing mail with someone’s social security number on it. Taking a social security number could be construed as an attempt to steal the mail recipient’s identity.
Another factor that could make a mail theft charge more serious is the number of items that were stolen. Charges and penalties increase if there are more addresses involved in the alleged theft. Also, a person could face elevated charges for stealing mail from someone who is elderly or disabled.
What to do if you have been charged for mail theft
You may think that your charge for mail theft is a small issue, but with the elevated penalties in Texas, a conviction for mail theft could be very serious. Depending on your situation, a criminal defense attorney may be able to help you argue for a dismissal or reduced charges.