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New Texas Bill May Make Stealing Packages a Felony

Published: Mar 22, 2019 in Criminal Defense, Theft Crimes

Thanks to the internet, hundreds of thousands of packages are delivered quickly and inexpensively every day to people across the country. To make deliveries on time, many carriers don’t even ring your doorbell, let alone wait for a signature – they simply leave the package and move on to the next delivery. Many of these packages are delivered during business hours when people are at work. As a result, there has been a noticeable rise in “porch piracy, ” which is stealing packages left on porches, front steps, and driveways. Legislation has been recently introduced in Texas that hopes to curb the theft of packages from people’s homes by making it a felony theft charge.

If you’ve been charged with theft, you should discuss your options with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Houston felony theft lawyer Ned Barnett can help you face your charges, and he will fight for you to get a fair result. To schedule a free consultation of your case, contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767.

Current Law

To better understand the new legislation that is being proposed, it’s helpful to review current Texas law as it pertains to stealing packages. Presently, many charges related to package theft are charged as a misdemeanor, with penalties varying according to the value of the property that was allegedly stolen. Texas Penal Code Section 31.03 outlines the classification of theft as it relates to packages left on people’s property. Currently, the penalties are as follows:

  • Property with a value of less than $100 (class C misdemeanor) – A fine of up to $500
  • For property valued between $100 and $750 (class B misdemeanor) – Up to 180 days in county jail, and fines reaching $2,000
  • Property with a value between $750 and $2,500 – Up to one year in county jail, and fines reaching $4,000

Predictably, the more valuable the property that was stolen, the more serious the consequences.

What Might Change With the Proposed Legislation?

The legislation introduced by Representative Gene Wu intends to curb package theft by significantly increasing the penalties and making it a state jail felony. Representative Wu has proposed to amend Texas Penal Code Section 31.03 to address package theft as follows:

  • The package was delivered by a common carrier (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.), but not yet received by the intended recipient.
  • The package was stolen from anywhere on a residential or commercial property, including the porch or driveway.
  • The value of the property is less than $30,000.

The proposed amendments classify the theft of any package worth less than $30,000 as a state jail felony. As a result, those charged with package theft face much harsher penalties than people charged with other thefts of similarly-valued property.

While a state jail felony may be the lowest classification of felony, it is still a felony theft charge, and the consequences can be very serious. If convicted, you face anywhere from 180 days to two years in state jail, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Have You Been Accused of Stealing Packages? Contact a Houston Felony Theft Lawyer for Help

Getting charged with theft is a serious matter, regardless of whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor. You could be facing serious fines, jail time, and the public stigma of a criminal conviction. Before doing anything, you should discuss your options with a criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Ned Barrett has been representing people accused of crimes in the Houston area for decades, and he has the knowledge and experience needed to defend you effectively. To schedule a free consultation of your case, contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett online, or by calling (713) 222-6767.