Is Theft of Services a Felony in Texas?

Paying for goods and services fairly supports the backbone of our society here in Texas and in the United States at large. We know that shoplifting goods is a serious crime punishable by fines and imprisonment – but what about stealing services, like cable installation or landscaping work? Just like theft of goods, Texas law treats theft of services as a serious crime to protect the interests of businesses and workers throughout the state. If you have recently been arrested for stealing, contact a Houston shoplifting lawyer today.

What Is Theft of Services?

Texas state law defines theft of services as obtaining services from another person by engaging in unlawful practices without the intent to pay for the services. Forcing someone to provide services, threatening someone if he or she does not provide services, or using deception to obtain services can all constitute theft of services. Using counterfeit money to pay for the services also falls under this category.

Dining and dashing, or eating at a restaurant and leaving without paying, is a common form of this crime. Fare evasion on public transportation and failing to pay for a hotel room are other examples. In addition, if someone asks for cable or Wi-Fi installation and fails to pay the contractor or company, he or she can face charges for theft of services.

Potential Penalties for Theft of Services

Texas considers theft of services a serious felony or misdemeanor and could impose severe penalties on a person accused of the crime, from jail time to fines. The punishment someone accused of theft of services could face depends on the severity of the crimes and the value of the services stolen.

  • The crime is a Class C misdemeanor if the value of the service was under $100. People facing this charge can receive a fine up to $500.
  • It is a Class B misdemeanor if the value is between $100 and $749. The state can impose a fine up to $2,000 and a jail sentence up to 180 days.
  • It is a Class A misdemeanor if the value is between $750 and $2,499. This crime is punishable by a fine up to $4,000 and up to 180 days in jail.
  • It is a state felony if the value is between $2,500 and $29,999. The state can impose a jail sentence up to 2 years in state prison and a fine up to $10,000.
  • It is a third-degree felony if the value if between $30,000 and $149,999. People facing this charge could receive a prison sentence between 2 to 10 years and a fine up to $10,000.
  • It is a second-degree felony if the value is between $150,000 and $299,999. The state can impose a jail sentence between 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
  • It is a first-degree felony if the value is over $300,000. This crime is punishable by a prison sentence from 5 to 99 years, life imprisonment, and a fine up to $10,000.

How to File for Theft of Services in Texas

If someone stole services for you and you want to file for theft of services in the state of Texas, you will first need to contact an attorney who can assist you with your claim. He or she will know how to file the complaint on your behalf and advise you on how to move forward with your case.

If the value of the services stolen constitutes a felony charge, contact law enforcement officials. Since the amount is so high, the crime is serious, and the police can help you press charges. If the value of the services stolen constitutes a misdemeanor, you can file a lawsuit in small case court. Collect as much evidence as you can before you begin either of these processes.

If you are facing charges for theft of services in Texas, you need an attorney on your side to represent your best interests. Obtaining the services of a criminal defense attorney in Houston could lead to an increased chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. As soon as you are able, contact an attorney after your arrest.

David Breston

David Breston has represented over 3,000 clients charged with Federal, State, and juvenile crimes in Texas and is a native Houstonian. Mr. Breston is a proud member of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Harris County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Throughout his years as an experienced criminal defense lawyer, he has taught seminars at Princeton and helped law students with their GMAT test review.

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