Q: What is the punishment if convicted of stealing mail in Texas?
Texas criminal defense attorneys are preparing for a potential influx of cases when a new state mail theft law becomes effective on September 1, 2019.
While mail theft is a felony under federal law, legislators reportedly feel that weak state-level mail theft laws do little to deter so-called “porch pirates” from allegedly “stealing packages and other mail from people’s doorsteps and mailboxes”. Currently, suspected mail theft is only “punishable as a misdemeanor with a ticket under state law”, but the new law will up the stakes by making it chargeable as a felony.
Under the new law, and depending on the circumstances of each case, those convicted may face punishments that include fines between $4,000 – $10,000 as well as sentences “between 180 days in jail and 10 years in prison”.
What increases the severity of the punishment?
Factors that may increase the severity of punishment upon conviction include:
- the number of allegedly stolen pieces of mail
- the number of different addresses on the allegedly stolen pieces of mail
- whether the mail was allegedly stolen as part of “identity theft targeting”
- whether the alleged victim was elderly, disabled, or otherwise vulnerable.
“Mail” is defined more broadly than just a letter in a mailbox. For the purposes of the new law, mail may constitute “a letter, postal card, package, bag or other sealed article addressed to an individual, that has been dropped off by a common carrier or delivery service, or has been left by a customer for pick up”. The broad scope seeks to cover not only US Postal Service mail and packages but also deliveries by carriers like Amazon, Federal Express, UPS and others.
Being charged with a crime and facing significant fines and/or imprisonment upon conviction is frightening. With your reputation, job, finances, and freedom on the line, a criminal defense attorney Board-certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization may be your best chance at winning an acquittal or negotiating the most favorable outcome possible under the particular circumstances.
Contact the Benjamin Law Firm today
If you or a loved one has been charged or expects to be charged with a criminal offense, the Benjamin Law Firm can help you. Contact us today for a consultation.
From our office in El Paso, we serve clients throughout Texas in all aspects of criminal defense law, civil litigation, and aviation law, in areas including but not limited to El Paso County, Las Cruces, Odessa, and Midland.
Posted in: Mail Theft