Theft of Service

Have you been arrested, charged or accused of the crime of Theft of Service? If you are facing prosecution for the crime of Theft of Service, it is critical to your freedom and good name to find an experienced criminal lawyer that has a proven track record of dealing with Theft of Service cases in Tarrant County.

According to Texas Penal Code, Title 7: Offenses Against Property, Chapter 31: Theft, Section 31.04, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office will be required to prove the following elements of Theft of Service beyond a reasonable doubt:

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.

The Texas Penal Code Section 31.04(b)(2) states that the element of intent to avoid payment will be presumed if:

  • the actor absconded without paying for the service or expressly refused to pay for the service in circumstances where payment is ordinarily made immediately upon rendering of the service, as in hotels, campgrounds, recreational vehicle parks, restaurants, and comparable establishments;
  • the actor failed to make payment under a service agreement within 10 days after receiving notice demanding payment;
  • the actor returns property held under a rental agreement after the expiration of the rental agreement and fails to pay the applicable rental charge for the property within 10 days after the date on which the actor received notice demanding payment; or
  • the actor failed to return the property held under a rental agreement:
  • within five days after receiving notice demanding return, if the property is valued at less than $1,500; or
  • within three days after receiving notice demanding return, if the property is valued at $1,500 or more.
  • Regarding notice, Texas Penal Code, Section 31.04(c) states that notice must be in writing sent by registered or certified mail with return receipt requested or by telegram with report of delivery requested, and addressed to the actor at his address shown on the rental agreement or service agreement. If these requirements are met, it is presumed that the notice was received no later than five days after it was sent.

What happens if payment was not made for services on a payment schedule? If the payments were supposed to be made periodically or on a schedule over time, the intent to avoid payment for the service may be formed at any time during a period the payment was due. Additionally, the Texas Penal Code states that partial payment alone is not sufficient to negate the intent to avoid payment for a service. The Texas Penal Code does specify that it is a defense to Theft of Service that the accused secured the performance of the service by giving a post-dated check to the person performing the service; and the person performing the service or any other person presented the check for payment before the date on the check .

Under Texas Penal Code, Section 31.04(e), the range of punishment for the crime of Theft of Service is as follows:

  • a Class C misdemeanor (punishable by a fine only of up to $500) if the value of the service stolen is less than $20;
  • a Class B misdemeanor (punishable by a term of confinement in the Tarrant County jail of up to 180 days) if the value of the service stolen is $20 or more but less than $500;
  • a Class A misdemeanor (punishable by a term of confinement in the Tarrant County jail of up to 1 year) if the value of the service stolen is $500 or more but less than $1,500;
  • a state jail felony (punishable by a term of confinement in a Texas state jail facility of not less than 180 days but not more than 2 years) if the value of the service stolen is $1,500 or more but less than $20,000;
  • a felony of the third degree (punishable by a term of confinement in prison of not less than 2 years but not more than 10 years) if the value of the service stolen is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000;
  • a felony of the second degree (punishable by a term of confinement in prison of not less than 2 years but not more than 20 years) if the value of the service stolen is $100,000 or more but less than $200,000; or
  • a felony of the first degree (punishable by a term of confinement in prison of not less than 5 years but not more than 99 years or life) if the value of the service stolen is $200,000 or more.

As you can see, a conviction for Theft of Service could result in a loss of your freedom and severely damage your reputation and limit your opportunity to obtain or retain employment. Regardless of whether your theft case is a misdemeanor or felony, a conviction for theft oftentimes has the same result as a felony conviction due to the stigma of being labeled a thief by potential employers. It is important to fight for your freedom and reputation by hiring an aggressive criminal lawyer that knows the courts in Tarrant County and is willing to do what it takes to protect your clean record. At The Hampton Law Firm, I will aggressively defend you from a conviction and look to negotiate a dismissal or reduction of your charges to ensure this charge can be cleared from your record.

Call The Hampton Law Firm now for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options under Texas law. Contact Jeff Hampton at 817-877-5200.