According to the Texas Tribune, Texas ranks among the top 15 states in the nation for fraud and identity theft. At least one law enforcement official believes that the theft of mail parcels or packages can lead to these other, more serious crimes.
Until recently, your case would receive a transfer to federal authorities if you allegedly stole someone else’s mail. Last year, the governor of Texas signed a bill into law imposing penalties ranging from a class A misdemeanor to a third-degree felony for the crime of mail theft.
Value not taken into account
Not everyone is happy with the new law. Some believe that a felony charge for mail theft is too high, especially since it does not take the value of the stolen property into account. If charged with felony mail theft, you could potentially face up to $10,000 in fines and two to 10 years in prison. The basis of the charges would be the number of thefts you allegedly committed rather than the value of the packages.
Mail theft defined in penal code
To impose tangible penalties on mail theft, the new law had to define what it was. The previous law did not do this. Instead of a separate charge for mail theft, you would have faced charges of either identity theft or a property crime.
Under the new law, penalties can increase if there is evidence that you intended to steal from a vulnerable person, such as someone elderly or disabled, or if your purpose was to obtain personal information to commit identity theft. In situations such as these, you may face first-degree felony charges and potentially harsher penalties.