Online shopping made it easy to purchase goods through home deliveries, but it also brought about an increase in boxes and packages left on porches. Because not all of those parcels make it inside the home, Texas passed House Bill 37 to include jail time for package theft.
As noted by 7KLTV, prior to the Bill’s passage, individuals found taking mail or a package worth up to $75 received a ticket. The revised law, however, now classifies package theft valued at less than $75 as a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction may result in up to a year in jail.
Package theft may also classify as a felony
If a prosecutor charges that an individual took mail, boxes or packages from 10 to 29 different addresses, the offense may upgrade to a Texas state felony. The prosecution does not need to consider the value of the goods taken. A judge may sentence an individual to prison for up to 10 years and also impose a fine ranging between $4,000 and $10,000.
Under Texas Penal Code Chapter 7, Sec. 32.51, penalties increase when package contents contain identifying information, such as a driver’s license or passport. An individual found targeting porches of elderly or disabled residents might face a third-degree felony conviction.
An admission of guilt may reduce the penalty
Security cameras showed a Texas resident taking packages from several porches during the 2017 Christmas season. The deliveries allegedly totaled over $3,000 and included vitamins, pet supplies and groceries. As reported by 1080 KRLD, the defendant avoided jail time by pleading guilty. The judge sentenced her to two years of probation.
Home security systems could very clearly show the removal of a package from a porch. Recorded evidence of this sort could prove difficult to counter, but accepting responsibility may help persuade a judge to consider a lesser penalty.