Texas Identity Theft Laws

The crime of identity theft occurs when someone wrongfully uses another person’s personal details to obtain goods, services, or anything else of value. In Texas, two main laws apply to identity theft situations.

You can read Identity Theft Law if you’d like to know more about these types of crimes.

Fraudulent Use or Possession of Identifying Information

Anyone in Texas who obtains, possesses, transfers, or uses a person’s identifying information without that person’s consent and with the intent to harm or defraud someone commits the crime of fraudulent use or possession of identifying information.

Depending on the circumstances of the crime, fraudulent use or possession of identifying information in Texas is either a state jail felony, felony of the third degree, felony of the second degree, or felony of the first degree.

(Texas Penal Code Annotated section 32.51)

A person’s identifying information is any kind of information that by itself, or when presented with other information, can identify an individual. It includes, for example, a person’s name, date of birth, fingerprints, electronic identification number, bank account routing number, Social Security number, and other government issued identifying information.

Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information

People in Texas commit the crime of unauthorized acquisition or transfer of certain financial information when they, without authority to do so, obtain payment card or financial sight order information by use of any type of electronic, photographic, or recording device; or when they transfer such information to others. Financial sight order information is information contained on a check, debit card, credit card, or the magnetic strip of those cards, such as account numbers, routing numbers, date of card issuance, and similar information.

Obtaining such information is a Class B misdemeanor offense, while transferring such information to a third party is a Class A misdemeanor offense.

(Texas Penal Code Annotated section 31.17)

Penalties

Depending on the circumstances of the crime, being convicted of an identity theft crime in Texas can lead to penalties including lengthy prison sentences and significant fines.

For a more detailed explanation of Texas’s criminal sentencing laws, read Texas Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences, and Texas Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.

  • Incarceration. If you’re convicted of the unauthorized acquisition or transfer of certain financial information in Texas, you face a maximum of up to one year in jail. If you’re convicted of the fraudulent use or possession of identifying information, you could face the possibility of life imprisonment.
  • Fines. A felony conviction for fraudulent use or possession of identifying information can result in up to $10,000 in fines, while misdemeanor convictions for the unauthorized acquisition or transfer of certain financial information can result in up to $4,000 in fines.
  • Probation. Depending on the circumstances of the crime, a Texas court can sentence someone convicted of an identity theft crime to a probation sentence. Probation in Texas will last at least one year, during which time the probationer will have his or her freedom significantly limited by the court ordered probation conditions. These conditions require the probationer to, for example, regularly report to a probation officer, not leave the jurisdiction unless authorized to do so, find or maintain employment, make all restitution payments, pay all court costs and fines, and not commit more crimes.
  • Restitution. When a victim of identity theft suffers a financial loss as a result of the crime, the court will also include a restitution order. Restitution compensates the victims for their losses, so the amount the court awards will differ from case to case.

You Should Speak to a Texas Attorney

You should always talk to a local criminal defense lawyer whenever you need legal advice. An attorney who has experience representing clients in your area is the only person capable of giving you advice about your case and your legal options. Never make any decisions about your case before you talk to a lawyer.

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