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The New Texas Law on Package Theft

Texas Takes Package Theft Seriously

In June of 2019, the State of Texas adopted a law that increases the charges and penalties associated with taking someone else’s packages from their mailbox or porch without their express permission. Beginning on September 1, 2019, a person so charged can face either misdemeanor or felony charges (depending upon the number of addresses affected by the package theft). Further, if the perpetrator knowingly takes packages from a person who is elderly or disabled or if the theft involves identity theft, the fines and penalties can be increased considerably.

The Legislation

The legislation involved was signed into law by Governor Abbott, and it defines mail as a postcard, letter, package, bag, or other sealed item that is delivered by either a delivery service or common carrier that has not yet been received by the intended recipient. In other words, those shopping boxes that pile up at front doors, letters in mailboxes, and parcels of every variety are covered by the legislation.

State Authority

This new law is the first legislation aimed specifically at mail theft, which used to be left to federal authorities. Now Texas can address the issue of package theft and other kinds of mail theft directly. Because Texas had been silent on the issue, state officers were obligated to forward such cases to federal authorities. Because of the complexities, ambiguities, and the high threshold of federal prosecution, many interpreted the state’s silence as a loophole for professional criminals. This new law bypasses this inconsistency and allows local authorities to address the issue of mail theft on their own.

Associated Penalties

Once the new law is in effect, the penalties associated with taking packages that belong to other people are categorized according to how many addresses are involved. The breakdown is as follows:

  • If charged with taking mail or packages from fewer than 10 different addresses, the accused faces a Class A misdemeanor with up to $4,000 in fines and/or up to 1 year in county jail.

  • If charged with taking mail or packages from 10 to 29 addresses, the accused faces a state jail felony charge with up to $10,000 in fines and/or anywhere from 180 days to 2 years in state jail.

  • If charged with taking mail or packages from 30 or more addresses, the accused faces third-degree felony charges with up to $10,000 in fines and/or from 2 to 10 years in prison.

If You Have Been Accused of a Crime, Consult with an Experienced Killeen Criminal Attorney Today

If you have been accused of package theft or any other criminal offense, you need the professional legal counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is committed to helping you obtain the most positive resolution of your case. Mr. Pritchard has the experience, skill, and compassion to aggressively advocate for your rights, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.

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