What penalties exist for fraud, such as identity theft, in Texas?

Crimes that are nonviolent often have different punishments than those that involve violence. Those who are accused of nonviolent crimes, such as fraud, may mistakenly believe that the possible punishments won’t be as severe as crimes like rape or murder. This is not always the case. Certain crimes — such as identity theft — can wreak havoc on a victim’s life, costing them not just the money someone may have stolen, but their time and money to correct any damage that has been done. The punishments for an identity theft conviction here in Texas are dependent on several factors, and those who are accused may benefit by keeping this fact in mind when preparing a defense.

Here in the Lone Star State, penalties for identity theft are affected by the precise crime and the victim. Identity theft can be considered a misdemeanor if certain financial information was stolen, or a felony if identifying information was acquired or used. This means that punishments could range from fines to incarceration, dependent on the exact offense that was committed. Certain crimes can also be punished by the court ordering restitution, requiring the perpetrator to repay the victim any money that he or she lost as a result of the identity theft. These punishments are similar across the country.

Further, Texas punishes those who commit identity theft against vulnerable groups of people more harshly. An offense can be raised to a higher class if it is committed against an older person, a child or someone who is disabled. This would make the potential punishments even more severe.

It is this potential for punishment that makes identity theft and other crimes of fraud like it nothing to take lightly. Those who stand accused can take solace in the fact that they are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. Being armed with this type of knowledge can be helpful as defendants prepare their defense against the charges.

Source: FindLaw Blotter, “Identity Theft Charges: What Are the Possible Punishments?“, Daniel Taylor, Oct. 12, 2014