When you think of theft, you might think of someone shoplifting at Walmart or a liquor store. Or, it might make you think of a teenager stealing someone’s bicycle, or a stranger stealing someone’s jacket at a concert. In a general sense, “theft” means to deprive someone of their property permanently, so the possibilities are endless.
Under the Texas Penal Code, theft isn’t limited to stealing someone else’s property. It can also include “theft of service.” Sec. 31.04 of the Texas Penal Code says that someone commits the offense of “theft of service” when they receive a service that is intended for compensation, but they avoid paying for the service.
Here are some examples of how someone can commit the offense of theft of service under Sec. 31.04 of the Penal Code:
- A woman gets her hair cut, dyed and styled at a hair salon and she sneaks out before paying the $200 bill.
- A man gets his car washed and he drives away without paying for the $15 car wash.
- A woman receives a $50 personal training session, but refuses to pay for it because she doesn’t like her trainer’s advice.
- A man from out-of-town gets a $60 massage, but leaves the spa without paying for it.
- A woman gets a manicure and pedicure, but she quietly sneaks out of the nail salon without paying for it.
- A couple has a $150 dinner at a nice restaurant and they sneak out of the restaurant before the server gives them the check. This is known as “dine and dash.”
- A computer repairman fixes a client’s computer, but the client refuses to pay him for his service, which was worth $150.
What Are The Penalties for Theft of Service?
Theft of service can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the value of the services not paid for.
- If the value of services stolen is less than $100, it is a Class C misdemeanor.
- If the value of services stolen is more than $100, but less than $750, it is a Class B misdemeanor.
- If the value of services stolen is more than $750, but less than $2,500, it is a
Class A misdemeanor.
- If the value of services stolen is more than $2,500, but less than $30,000, it is a
state jail felony.
- If the value of services stolen is more than $30,000, but less than 150,000, it is a
felony of the third degree.
- And so on.