In the state of Texas, theft does not just apply to tangible objects. You may also receive criminal charges for “theft of service.”
Theft of service occurs when you avoid or intend to avoid paying for services that you know the provider offers for compensation. For theft of services charges to stick, certain elements must exist.
The elements of theft of services crime
Per the Texas Penal Code Sec. 31.04, the prosecution must prove four elements to find you guilty of theft of services. Those are as follows:
- You must have knowingly or intentionally secured the performance of services through fraud, deception or false tokens.
- You have control over the disposition of services and, in your control, knowingly or intentionally divert the deliverance of services for your own benefit or for the benefit of another who is not entitled to said services.
- You have possession of rental property and retain possession even after the expiration of the rental period, thereby depriving the owner of the ability to rent out the property in the future.
- You knowingly or intentionally secure the performance of services by agreeing to pay for said services and, once the provider renders the services, you fail to make the full payment even after receiving a notice demanding the payment.
For theft to have occurred, you must either expressly refuse to pay for services or withhold payment for a period that is longer than expected or normal.
Classification of theft of services crimes
Theft of services crimes range in severity and can result in either a misdemeanor or felony charges. The class of crime an offense falls under depends on the value of the services you allegedly stole. For instance, services valued at $100 or less may result in Class C misdemeanor charges. If the value of services is more than $100 but less than $750, the crime becomes a Class B misdemeanor. The theft of services of more than $750 but less than $2,500 becomes a Class A misdemeanor.
Theft of services becomes a felony offense once the value of services exceeds $2,500. If the value is less than $30,000, the crime is a state jail felony. If it exceeds $30,000 but is less than $150,000, you may face third-degree felony charges. You may face second-degree felony charges if the value of services is between $150,000 and $300,000. Once the value of the services stolen exceeds $300,000, the crime becomes a first-degree felony.
Theft of services is a serious crime. If you face these types of charges, contact an attorney right away.