Texas Penal Code
Sec. § 31.04
Theft of Service


(a)

A person commits theft of service if, with intent to avoid payment for service that the actor knows is provided only for compensation:

(1)

the actor intentionally or knowingly secures performance of the service by deception, threat, or false token;

(2)

having control over the disposition of services of another to which the actor is not entitled, the actor intentionally or knowingly diverts the others services to the actors own benefit or to the benefit of another not entitled to the services;

(3)

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

(4)

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.

(b)

For purposes of this section, intent to avoid payment is presumed if any of the following occurs:

(1)

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;

(2)

the actor failed to make payment under a service agreement within 10 days after receiving notice demanding payment;

(3)

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;

(4)

the actor failed to return the property held under a rental agreement:

(A)

within five days after receiving notice demanding return, if the property is valued at less than $2,500;

(B)

within three days after receiving notice demanding return, if the property is valued at $2,500 or more but less than $10,000; or

(C)

within two days after receiving notice demanding return, if the property is valued at $10,000 or more; or

(5)

the actor:

(A)

failed to return the property held under an agreement described by Subsections (d-2)(1)-(3) within five business days after receiving notice demanding return; and

(B)

has made fewer than three complete payments under the agreement.

(c)

For purposes of Subsections (a)(4), (b)(2), (b)(4), and (b)(5), notice must be:

(1)

in writing;

(2)

sent by:

(A)

registered or certified mail with return receipt requested; or

(B)

commercial delivery service; and

(3)

sent to the actor using the actors mailing address shown on the rental agreement or service agreement.

(d)

Except as otherwise provided by this subsection, if written notice is given in accordance with Subsection (c), it is presumed that the notice was received not later than two days after the notice was sent. For purposes of Subsections (b)(4)(A) and (B) and (b)(5), if written notice is given in accordance with Subsection (c), it is presumed that the notice was received not later than five days after the notice was sent.

(d-1)

For purposes of Subsection (a)(2), the diversion of services to the benefit of a person who is not entitled to those services includes the disposition of personal property by an actor having control of the property under an agreement described by Subsections (d-2)(1)-(3), if the actor disposes of the property in violation of the terms of the agreement and to the benefit of any person who is not entitled to the property.

(d-2)

For purposes of Subsection (a)(3), the term “written rental agreement” does not include an agreement that:

(1)

permits an individual to use personal property for personal, family, or household purposes for an initial rental period;

(2)

is automatically renewable with each payment after the initial rental period; and

(3)

permits the individual to become the owner of the property.

(d-3)

For purposes of Subsection (a)(4):

(1)

if the compensation is or was to be paid on a periodic basis, the intent to avoid payment for a service may be formed at any time during or before a pay period;

(2)

the partial payment of wages alone is not sufficient evidence to negate the actors intent to avoid payment for a service; and

(3)

the term “service” does not include leasing personal property under an agreement described by Subsections (d-2)(1)-(3).

(d-4)

A presumption established under Subsection (b) involving a defendants failure to return property held under an agreement described by Subsections (d-2)(1)-(3) may be refuted if the defendant shows that the defendant:

(1)

intended to return the property; and

(2)

was unable to return the property.

(d-5)

For purposes of Subsection (b)(5), “business day” means a day other than Sunday or a state or federal holiday.

(e)

An offense under this section is:

(1)

a Class C misdemeanor if the value of the service stolen is less than $100;

(2)

a Class B misdemeanor if the value of the service stolen is $100 or more but less than $750;

(3)

a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the service stolen is $750 or more but less than $2,500;

(4)

a state jail felony if the value of the service stolen is $2,500 or more but less than $30,000;

(5)

a felony of the third degree if the value of the service stolen is $30,000 or more but less than $150,000;

(6)

a felony of the second degree if the value of the service stolen is $150,000 or more but less than $300,000; or

(7)

a felony of the first degree if the value of the service stolen is $300,000 or more.

(f)

Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, any police or other report of stolen vehicles by a political subdivision of this state shall include on the report any rental vehicles whose renters have been shown to such reporting agency to be in violation of Subsection (b)(2) and shall indicate that the renting agency has complied with the notice requirements demanding return as provided in this section.

(g)

It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1)

the defendant secured the performance of the service by giving a post-dated check or similar sight order to the person performing the service; and

(2)

the person performing the service or any other person presented the check or sight order for payment before the date on the check or sight order.
Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 1138, ch. 429, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 29, 1977; Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 2920, ch. 497, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 565, Sec. 15, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 479, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 28, 1995; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 843, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1245, Sec. 1, 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 419, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.
Amended by:
Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 141 (S.B. 1024), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2011.
Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1251 (H.B. 1396), Sec. 11, eff. September 1, 2015.
Acts 2019, 86th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1124 (H.B. 2524), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2019.
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Last accessed
May. 25, 2020