Are Texas penalties for package theft too extreme?

On Behalf of | Mar 23, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Theft crimes are commonly charged throughout Texas. Those who are on the receiving end of those allegations can find themselves coming face-to-face with the very real possibility of being fined and incarcerated. That’s why it’s imperative that they diligently work to build a strong criminal defense. But one of the challenges in building these defense strategies is merely staying up-to-date on changes in the law. For example, it may come as a surprise to you that within the past few years Texas implemented a mail theft crime that carries much harsher penalties than you might expect.

What the law entails

Under this provision in the law, an individual can be charged with anything from a class A misdemeanor to a third-degree felony for stealing packages off of someone’s porch. This means that if someone is accused of taking an Amazon package from someone’s doorstep, he or she could see anything from one to 10 years in jail and up to a $4,000 fine. If the prosecution can show that the porch theft was committed with the intent to steal someone’s identity or that the package or packages in question were stolen from an elderly person’s porch, then a first-degree felony charge can be brought. Under these circumstances, the potential penalties can be amplified dramatically.

Does the law go too far?

There’s no doubt that the penalties for mail theft are severe. But proponents of the law think that these harsh penalties are needed to deter the behavior in question. Others, though, think that the law goes too far. They point to the fact that the penalties are not tied to the value of the goods stolen, as is the case with tradition theft charges, but are instead related to the number of homes from which packages are stolen. The critics of the law think that the statute does nothing more than to increase an already ballooned prison population. Instead, these critics think the focus should be shifted away from law enforcement and toward secured package delivery.

Protecting your rights

Regardless of how you might feel about the law, the fact remains that prosecutors have the ability to bring mail theft charges against you if they think that they can prove their case. But you have rights and protections as a defendant in a criminal case. Perhaps chief amongst them is the presumption that you’re innocent unless and until the State can prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That means that all you have to do is poke enough holes in the prosecution’s case to raise enough doubt as to your guilt in order to obtain an acquittal.

Of course, we realize that sometimes the evidence is pretty overwhelming. In these circumstances, though, we think it’s important to look at the human element of these crimes. Many individuals who are accused of theft are facing serious problems of their own. They may be struggling with an addiction, financial insecurity, or a mental health issue. For these individuals, retribution shouldn’t be the focus. Instead, rehabilitation may be a better route. That’s why those who are facing theft charges, including mail theft, may want to try to negotiate with prosecutors to see if they can avoid jail time and can instead receive the treatment they need.

Ensure that your case is in good hands

Theft crimes are charged all the time in our community. So often, in fact, that prosecutors are oftentimes overconfident in their ability to obtain the outcome they want. Don’t let prosecutors walk all over you, though. Instead, consider working closely with criminal defense attorney who will know how to give you the advocacy you need to increase your chances of obtaining the outcome you desire.

 

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