When you consider the term property crime, you are probably inclined to think about crimes such as burglary, theft, and property damage. In reality, however, many property crimes do not relate to tangible property at all. Such crimes include criminal trespassing, online solicitation of a minor, and false statement to obtain property or credit. It is worth taking a closer look.
In Texas, criminal trespassing refers to a person who – without the effective consent of the owner – enters or remains on someone else’s property, including:
- A residence
- Recreational land
- Agricultural land
- A vehicle
While this property crime does involve property, the property need not be damaged or harmed by the trespasser to qualify as a property crime. Criminal trespassing is generally a misdemeanor – the class of which can go up if a deadly weapon was carried during the commission of the offense.
The Online Solicitation of a Minor
This one is confusing, but Texas organizes its statutes in such a way that this computer crime falls within the broader scope of property crimes. The online solicitation of a minor refers to when anyone who is at least 17 years old electronically communicates sexually explicit content to anyone else who is either younger than 17 or is believed to be younger than 17. The crime involves communication via an electronic source that is intended to knowingly solicit the minor to meet for sexual purposes. The meeting does not have to take place, however, for the crime to be committed. Anyone convicted of the online solicitation of a minor faces second-degree felony charges if the victim is under the age of 14 and third-degree charges if the victim is 14 or over.
False Claim to Obtain Property or Credit
This one can also be confusing, but it is a property crime in Texas to intentionally or knowingly use a written statement that is materially false or misleading to obtain property or a line of credit, including a loan for one’s mortgage. This last – the mortgage loan – can be tricky. Purchasing a home is a financial difficulty for many people, and it is not uncommon to turn to family members to fund a down payment. There are, however, regulations pertaining to how much money can be gifted in different mortgage loan scenarios. If a purchaser fails to report where the down payment originated accurately, he or she could face felony fraud charges (a felony by virtue of the loan’s size).