When most people think of theft crimes, they picture shoplifting or taking property belonging to someone else. However, theft encompasses several types of criminal actions, including theft of service. Someone who attempts to obtain a service using threats or deception may face theft of service charges in Texas. If law enforcement has arrested you for theft of service, here is some basic information you should know to help you prepare for the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Legal Definition of Theft of Service in Texas
Under Title 7, Section 31.04 of the Texas Penal Code, someone can face theft of service charges if they attempt to avoid paying for a service they know is available only for compensation and they “intentionally or knowingly secure performance of the service by deception, threat, or false token.” Additionally, if someone has illegitimate control over someone else’s services and knowingly diverts these services for their own benefit, prosecutors may charge the individual with theft of service. Other examples of theft of service include having control over property under a written rental agreement and exceeding the rental period (thereby depriving the owner of future rentals) and failing to pay for a service after receiving notice demanding payment.
Consequences of a Theft of Service Conviction
The severity of the punishment for theft of service convictions relies on the value of the service. For instance, if the value of the service is worth between $100 and $750, you could face Class B misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to $2,000 in fines. If the value of the stolen service is $300,000 or more, you could face first-degree felony charges, punishable by up to 99 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. In addition to these penalties, you could face additional limitations on your freedom and future, such as limited housing and employment opportunities once you’ve completed the terms of your sentence.
How a Skilled Pearland Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
Facing criminal charges of any kind can be overwhelming. However, you do not have to go through this challenging process alone. Enlisting the guidance of a trusted and experienced criminal defense attorney can give you the clarity and reassurance you need to move forward. Your attorney will answer your questions, address your concerns, and work hard to develop the most successful legal strategy to keep your future as bright as possible.
Call the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC, today at (832) 230-0075 to arrange a free consultation with a skilled Pearland criminal defense lawyer.