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New law will affect mail theft charges

Online shopping is easier than ever. Whether with a single click of a computer mouse or a few swipes on a smartphone, all it takes is a few moments to make a purchase. The rise in online shopping also means that there are more and more deliveries, many of which sit on people's porches while they are out at work or school. Thefts involving these packages has been increasing over recent years, and a new Texas law means some of those thefts could be considered felonies.

House Bill 37 proposed changing how charges for package theft are classified. Taking a package off of another person's property could lead to a mail theft charge anywhere between a class A misdemeanor all the way up to a first-degree felony. Greg Abbott -- the Texas state governor -- recently signed the bill into law.

The new law applies to more than just online shopping packages. Letters, postal cards, bags and other sealed articles delivered or left by mail carriers or delivery services are also covered by the law. Defendants accused of taking mail from 10 addresses or fewer will be charged with a misdemeanor. Those arrested for taking mail from less than 30 addresses but more than 10 can be charged with a felony. Anything over 30 addresses can result in a third-degree felony.

The law does not go into effect Sept. 1, 2019, so anyone arrested before then will not be affected by the change. However, changing criminal laws can be confusing for defendants. When facing criminal charges for theft in Texas, it may be worthwhile to speak with an attorney before working on any criminal defense plans.

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John M. Petruzzi, Attorney at Law
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