Identity theft occurs when someone’s information, such as name, address, identification, or Social Security number, is taken and used by another person. In Texas, there is a criminal charge for taking someone’s identification number, and it’s called “tampering with identification numbers.”

Why Is Tampering with an Identification Number a Crime?

Tampering with the number is a crime because it’s a type of criminal mischief. Criminal mischief involves intentionally damaging property that belongs to another person, including acts like:

  • Defacing
  • Damaging
  • Destroying
  • Obliterating
  • Altering

How Is Tampering with a Person’s Identification Number’s defined in Texas? 

A person is charged with tampering when the defendant: 

  • Intentionally or knowingly obliterates, removes, or alters the permanent identification number or serial number on tangible personal property; or
  • Knows the permanent identification or serial number was removed, obliterated, or altered and sells, offers, or possesses to sell the tampered tangible personal property; or
  • Acted as a reasonable person would in the same position that had known the serial numbers or any other permanent identification had been removed, obliterated, or altered

Is there any Affirmative Defense to Tampering with an Identification Number?

Yes. The defendant can claim an affirmative defense to this criminal if they: 

  • Acted with the effective consent of the property’s owner;
  • Were a peace officer acting in the actual discharge of official duties;
  • Were an employee of the Texas Department of Transportation or the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and acted in their official duties and in compliance with the rules of the Department. 

What Is the Punishment for Tampering with Identification Numbers in Texas?

Tampering with identification numbers in Texas is a class A misdemeanor. A convicted defendant can face up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. 

Should I Contact a Lawyer about Fighting My Tampering with Identification Numbers Charge?

Yes. It’s vital to contact an Texas criminal lawyer regarding this theft charge.