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Property Crimes

Crimes involving damage to or destruction of property in Texas are found in Chapter 28 of the Texas Penal Code.  Crimes involving the theft of property are found in several different sections of the code, primarily Chapter 31,

The paragraphs below highlight the basic elements of these crimes. The full text of the laws can be found by following the links provided. These laws are often quite complicated and contain very specific and detailed definitions, presumptions, enhancements, and exceptions. If you have been charged with one of these crimes, call my office at 888-403-0383 and we can discuss all the details of how the law applies in your specific situation.

Property crimes include:

Arson (PC 28.02)

  • A person commits an offense if the person starts a fire, regardless of whether the fire continues after ignition, or causes an explosion with intent to destroy or damage:
    • any vegetation, fence, or structure on open-space land; or
    • any building, habitation, or vehicle:
      • knowing that it is within the limits of an incorporated city or town;
      • knowing that it is insured against damage or destruction;
      • knowing that it is subject to a mortgage or other security interest;
      • knowing that it is located on property belonging to another;
      • knowing that it has located within it property belonging to another; or
      • when the person is reckless about whether the burning or explosion will endanger the life of some individual or the safety of the property of another.
  • A person commits an offense if the person recklessly starts a fire or causes an explosion while manufacturing or attempting to manufacture a controlled substance and the fire or explosion damages any building, habitation, or vehicle.
  • A person commits an offense if the person intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion and in so doing:
    • recklessly damages or destroys a building belonging to another; or
    • recklessly causes another person to suffer bodily injury or death.

Criminal Mischief (PC 28.03)

  • A person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner:
    • he intentionally or knowingly damages or destroys the tangible property of the owner;
    • he intentionally or knowingly tampers with the tangible property of the owner and causes pecuniary loss or substantial inconvenience to the owner or a third person; or
    • he intentionally or knowingly makes markings, including inscriptions, slogans, drawings, or paintings, on the tangible property of the owner.

Reckless Damage or Destruction (PC 28.04)

  • A person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner, he recklessly damages or destroys property of the owner.

Interference With Railroad Property (PC 28.07)

  • A person commits an offense if the person:
    • throws an object or discharges a firearm or weapon at a train or rail-mounted work equipment; or
    • without the effective consent of the owner:
      • enters or remains on railroad property, knowing that it is railroad property;
      • tampers with railroad property;
      • places an obstruction on a railroad track or right-of-way; or
      • causes in any manner the derailment of a train, railroad car, or other railroad property that moves on tracks.

Graffiti (PC 28.08)

  • A person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner, the person intentionally or knowingly makes markings, including inscriptions, slogans, drawings, or paintings, on the tangible property of the owner with:
    • paint;
    • an indelible marker; or
    • an etching or engraving device.

Robbery (PC 29.02)

  • A person commits an offense if, in the course of committing theft as defined in Chapter 31 and with intent to obtain or maintain control of the property, he:
    • intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or
    • intentionally or knowingly threatens or places another in fear of imminent bodily injury or death.

Aggravated Robbery (PC 29.03)

  • A person commits an offense if he commits robbery as defined in Section 29.02, and he:
    • causes serious bodily injury to another;
    • uses or exhibits a deadly weapon; or
    • causes bodily injury to another person or threatens or places another person in fear of imminent bodily injury or death, if the other person is:
      • 65 years of age or older; or
      • a disabled person.

Burglary (PC 30.02)

  • A person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner, the person:
    • enters a habitation, or a building (or any portion of a building) not then open to the public, with intent to commit a felony, theft, or an assault; or
    • remains concealed, with intent to commit a felony, theft, or an assault, in a building or habitation; or
    • enters a building or habitation and commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft, or an assault.

Burglary of Coin-Operated or Coin Collection Machines (PC 30.03)

  • A person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner, he breaks or enters into any coin-operated machine, coin collection machine, or other coin-operated or coin collection receptacle, contrivance, apparatus, or equipment used for the purpose of providing lawful amusement, sales of goods, services, or other valuable things, or telecommunications with intent to obtain property or services.

Burglary of Vehicles (PC 30.04)

  • A person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner, he breaks into or enters a vehicle or any part of a vehicle with intent to commit any felony or theft.

Criminal Trespass (PC 30.05)

  • A person commits an offense if the person enters or remains on or in property of another, including residential land, agricultural land, a recreational vehicle park, a building, or an aircraft or other vehicle, without effective consent and the person:
    • had notice that the entry was forbidden; or
    • received notice to depart but failed to do so.

Theft (PC 31.03)

  • A person commits an offense if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property.
  • Appropriation of property is unlawful if:
    • it is without the owner's effective consent;
    • the property is stolen and the actor appropriates the property knowing it was stolen by another; or
    • property in the custody of any law enforcement agency was explicitly represented by any law enforcement agent to the actor as being stolen and the actor appropriates the property believing it was stolen by another.

Theft of Service (PC 31.04)

  • A person commits theft of service if, with intent to avoid payment for service that the actor knows is provided only for compensation:
    • the actor intentionally or knowingly secures performance of the service by deception, threat, or false token;
    • having control over the disposition of services of another to which the actor is not entitled, the actor intentionally or knowingly diverts the other's services to the actor's own benefit or to the benefit of another not entitled to the services;
    • having control of personal property under a written rental agreement, the actor holds the property beyond the expiration of the rental period without the effective consent of the owner of the property, thereby depriving the owner of the property of its use in further rentals; or
    • the actor intentionally or knowingly secures the performance of the service by agreeing to provide compensation and, after the service is rendered, fails to make full payment after receiving notice demanding payment.

Theft of Trade Secrets (PC 31.05)

  • A person commits an offense if, without the owner's effective consent, he knowingly:
    • steals a trade secret;
    • makes a copy of an article representing a trade secret; or
    • communicates or transmits a trade secret.

Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle (PC 31.07)

  • A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly operates another's boat, airplane, or motor-propelled vehicle without the effective consent of the owner.

Tampering With Identification Numbers (PC 31.11)

  • A person commits an offense if the person:
    • knowingly or intentionally removes, alters, or obliterates the serial number or other permanent identification marking on tangible personal property; or
    • possesses, sells, or offers for sale tangible personal property and:
      • the actor knows that the serial number or other permanent identification marking has been removed, altered, or obliterated; or
      • a reasonable person in the position of the actor would have known that the serial number or other permanent identification marking has been removed, altered, or obliterated.

Theft of or Tampering With Multichannel Video or Information Services (PC 31.12)

  • A person commits an offense if, without the authorization of the multichannel video or information services provider, the person intentionally or knowingly:
    • makes or maintains a connection, whether physically, electrically, electronically, or inductively, to:
      • a cable, wire, or other component of or media attached to a multichannel video or information services system; or
      • a television set, videotape recorder, or other receiver attached to a multichannel video or information system;
    • attaches, causes to be attached, or maintains the attachment of a device to:
      • a cable, wire, or other component of or media attached to a multichannel video or information services system; or
      • a television set, videotape recorder, or other receiver attached to a multichannel video or information services system;
    • (3) tampers with, modifies, or maintains a modification to a device installed by a multichannel video or information services provider; or
    • (4) tampers with, modifies, or maintains a modification to an access device or uses that access device or any unauthorized access device to obtain services from a multichannel video or information services provider.

Manufacture, Distribution, Or Advertisement of Multichannel Video or Information Services Device (PC 31.13)

  • A person commits an offense if the person for remuneration intentionally or knowingly manufactures, assembles, modifies, imports into the state, exports out of the state, distributes, advertises, or offers for sale, with an intent to aid in the commission of an offense under Section 31.12, a device, a kit or part for a device, or a plan for a system of components wholly or partly designed to make intelligible an encrypted, encoded, scrambled, or other nonstandard signal carried or caused by a multichannel video or information services provider.

Sale or Lease of Multichannel Video or Information Services Device (PC 31.14)

  • A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly sells or leases, with an intent to aid in the commission of an offense under Section 31.12, a device, a kit or part for a device, or a plan for a system of components wholly or partly designed to make intelligible an encrypted, encoded, scrambled, or other nonstandard signal carried or caused by a multichannel video or information services provider.

Possession, Manufacture, or Distribution of Certain Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft (PC 31.15)

  • A person commits an offense if, with the intent to use the instrument to commit theft, the person:
    • possesses a shielding or deactivation instrument; or
    • knowingly manufactures, sells, offers for sale, or otherwise distributes a shielding or deactivation instrument.

Organized Retail Theft (PC 31.16)

  • A person commits an offense if the person intentionally conducts, promotes, or facilitates an activity in which the person receives, possesses, conceals, stores, barters, sells, or disposes of:
    • stolen retail merchandise; or
    • merchandise explicitly represented to the person as being stolen retail merchandise.

Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information (PC 31.17)

  • A person commits an offense if the person, knowing that the person is not entitled to obtain or possess that financial information:
    • obtains the financial sight order or payment card information of another by use of an electronic, photographic, visual imaging, recording, or other device capable of accessing, reading, recording, capturing, copying, imaging, scanning, reproducing, or storing in any manner the financial sight order or payment card information; or
    • transfers to a third party information obtained as described above.

Cargo Theft (PC 31.18)

  • A person commits an offense if the person:
    • knowingly or intentionally conducts, promotes, or facilitates an activity in which the person receives, possesses, conceals, stores, barters, sells, abandons, or disposes of:
      • stolen cargo; or
      • cargo explicitly represented to the person as being stolen cargo; or
    • is employed as a driver lawfully contracted to transport a specific cargo by vehicle from a known point of origin to a known point of destination and, with the intent to conduct, promote, or facilitate an activity described by Subdivision (1), knowingly or intentionally:
      • fails to deliver the entire cargo to the known point of destination as contracted; or
      • causes the seal to be broken on the vehicle or on an intermodal container containing any part of the cargo.

Theft of Petroleum Product (PC 31.19)

  • A person commits an offense if the person unlawfully appropriates a petroleum product with intent to deprive the owner of the petroleum product by:
    • possessing, removing, delivering, receiving, purchasing, selling, moving, concealing, or transporting the petroleum product; or
    • making or causing a connection to be made with, or drilling or tapping or causing a hole to be drilled or tapped in, a pipe, pipeline, or tank used to store or transport a petroleum product.

Mail Theft (PC 31.20)

  • A person commits an offense if the person intentionally appropriates mail from another person's mailbox or premises without the effective consent of the addressee and with the intent to deprive that addressee of the mail.

Stealing or Receiving Stolen Check or Similar Sight Order (PC 32.24)

  • A person commits an offense if the person steals an unsigned check or similar sight order or, with knowledge that an unsigned check or similar sight order has been stolen, receives the check or sight order with intent to use it, to sell it, or to transfer it to a person other than the person from whom the check or sight order was stolen.

If you would like to discuss your case with an attorney, call my office at 888-403-0383 for a free consultation, or you can fill out THIS FORM and I will review the information and call you to discuss your case.

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