Theft of services occurs when a person obtains services through unlawful means. Such as knowingly entering into an agreement for those services with no intent to pay for them or using threats or force to obtain them.

How is Theft of Service Defined in Texas?

In Texas, a person is guilty of theft of services if they have the intent to avoid paying for a service that they know is only given for compensation.

What Does the Prosecutor have to Establish to Convict Me of this Charge?

The prosecutor needs to establish that the defendant:

  • Knowingly or intentionally obtained performance of services by threat, deception, of false means;
  • Knowingly controlled and diverted the services to their benefit;
  • Had control of another person’s personal property from a rental agreement, but held the property beyond the rental period and deprived the owner of full use; or
  • Knowingly or intentionally securing service by agreeing to pay, then failing to pay after the service was rendered.

What Does It Mean to “Avoid Payment” in Texas?

Avoiding payment applies when the defendant:

  • Left without paying for services or expressly refused to pay for any service;
  • Failing to return rental property;
  • Returning property obtained under a rental agreement after the agreement expired, and failing to pay any rental charge within 10 days of receiving a demand payment notice; or
  • Failing to make a payment within 10 days of receiving a notice to pay demand notice.

Are There Defenses I Can Use to Fight this Theft Charge?

Yes. Defenses include giving a post-dated check for the service. But partial payment is not a complete defense against this charge. 

What’s the Punishment for Theft of Service?

Punishment depends on the amount of service stolen. So penalties can range from a class C misdemeanor (service valued at less than $20) to a felony of the first degree (service valued at more than $200,000). 

Can a Lawyer Help Me with My Theft Charge?

Yes, contact a Texas criminal lawyer immediately for help with you case.