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Fraud Charges in Texas

Fraud charges in Odessa, Texas, generally involve making willful misrepresentations with the intent to falsely obtain money or property. Fraud can involve small amounts of money, like using someone else's credit card to pay for gas, or millions of dollars, like a healthcare fraud scheme. The amount of fraud involved is important because that generally influences the penalties for a fraud conviction.

Fraud can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the type of fraud and value of fraud involved. Types of fraud in Texas can include:

  • Forgery
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Counterfeiting
  • Credit Card Fraud
  • Identity Theft
  • Check Fraud
  • Securities Fraud
  • Computer Fraud
  • Medicaid Fraud
  • Unemployment Fraud
  • Welfare Fraud
  • Workers' Comp Fraud
  • Tax Fraud
  • Mortgage Fraud

Not everyone charged with fraud is guilty. Someone else may have committed fraud in an innocent person's name. If you were arrested for criminal fraud in Texas, talk to your experienced Odessa criminal defense lawyer about your legal rights so you can fight a criminal conviction.

Texas Fraud Laws

There are a number of different fraud statutes under the Texas Penal Code. Texas Penal Code Section 32 applies to forgery, counterfeiting, check fraud, credit card fraud, vehicle fraud, identity fraud, among other types of fraud.

Forgery

Forgery under Texas Penal Code Section 32.21 involves altering or making a writing to appear to be:

  • authorized by another;
  • executed at a different time or place; or
  • a copy of an original where there was no original.

Forgery is a crime when it is done with the intent to defraud or harm another. Forgery is generally a class A misdemeanor. However, forgery can be a felony when the writing is purported to be:

  • a will
  • a deed
  • a mortgage
  • a security instrument
  • a credit card, or
  • a check.

Check Fraud

Check fraud can involve stealing or receiving a stolen check with the intent to:

  • use it,
  • sell it, or
  • transfer it.

Check fraud may also include issuing a check knowing that the issuer does not have sufficient funds for full payment. Check fraud is generally a misdemeanor in Texas.

Vehicle Fraud

Fraudulent transfer of a motor vehicle under Texas Penal Code Section 32.34 involves acquiring or taking control of a motor vehicle to:

  • transfer to a third party while knowing the vehicle is subject to a lien or security interest; or
  • transfer the vehicle while intending to defraud the vehicle's owner.

Fraudulent vehicle transfer is generally a felony with penalties based on the value of the motor vehicle.  

Identity Theft

Under Texas Penal Code Section 32.51, fraudulent use or possession of identifying information may be considered identity theft. Identifying information may include:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • fingerprints
  • financial account or routing number
  • social security number, or
  • other government ID number.

Identity theft involves using someone else's identifying information to transfer money or obtain goods, services, or other things of value without the other person's consent.

The penalties for identity theft fraud is partly based on the number of times the defendant used the other person's information.

Number of items obtained, possessed, used, or transferred:

Theft Classification

Less than 5

State Jail Felony

More than 5 but less than 10

Third-Degree Felony

More than 10 but less than 50

Second-Degree Felony

50 or more

First-Degree Felony

Credit Card Fraud

Under Texas Penal Code Section 32.31, credit card abuse involves intending to obtain a fraudulent benefit and:

  • Using a credit card knowing that it is issued in someone else's name or is cancelled;
  • Using a fictitious credit card;
  • Stealing or using a stolen credit card;
  • Selling another person's credit card;
  • Buying a credit card from someone not the cardholder, or
  • Possessing two or more blank credit cards.

Credit card fraud can also involve a merchant or someone authorized to accept credit cards who accepts a fraudulent or forged credit card with the intent to defraud the issuer or cardholder. Credit card fraud is generally a third-degree felony in Texas.

Fraud Penalties

The penalties for certain types of fraud are based on the value of the fraud involved. 

Value of the Property or Service

Theft Classification

Jail Time

Fines

Less than $100

Class C Misdemeanor

--

Up to $500

$100 or more but less than $750

Class B Misdemeanor

Up to 180 Days

Up to $2,000


$750 or more but less than $2,500

Class A Misdemeanor

Up to 1 Year

Up to $4,000

$2.500 or more but less than $30,000,

State Jail Felony

180 Days to 2 Years

Up to $10,000

$30,000 or more but less than $150,000

3rd Degree Felony

2 to 10 Years

Up to $10,000

$150,000 or more but less than $300,000

2nd Degree Felony

2 to 20 Years

Up to $10,000

More than $300,000

1st Degree Felony

5 to 99 Years

Up to $10,000


There may also be enhanced penalties depending on the victim involved. For example, penalties increase when the fraud is committed against an elderly individual. If fraud involves exploitation of a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual, the crime may be charged as a third-degree felony.

Anyone convicted of fraud may also be ordered by the court to make restitution to the victim(s) of the offense, including reimbursement for lost income or other expenses.

Insurance Fraud in Odessa, Texas

Insurance fraud can involve just about any type of insurance. Some of the most common types of insurance fraud involve property insurance, car insurance, or medical insurance. Insurance fraud can involve a policyholder trying to defraud the insurance company or even a doctor who commits fraud to wrongfully get payment from an insurance company.  

Under Texas Penal Code Section 35, the penalties for insurance fraud depend, in part, on the total value of the claims involved. In addition to jail time and fines, the court may order a defendant to pay:

  • restitution,
  • court costs, and
  • attorney's fees to the affected insurer.

Odessa Criminal Fraud Defense Lawyer

Before pleading guilty to any criminal charge, talk to an experienced Odessa criminal defense attorney about your case. If you've been charged with fraud in Texas, the Law Office of E. Jason Leach, PLLC is here to fight for you. E. Jason Leach is a Board Certified criminal defense attorney that has dedicated his law practice to defending the accused. To set up a free consultation, contact the Law Office of E. Jason Leach today at (432) 552-7000.

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