According to a recent news article, a Texas man recently pulled into an alley and began looking through the contents of a dumpster. The 44-year-old dumpster-diver was sorting through the stuff people had thrown away – that is itself not a crime, of course, but local law enforcement had been alerted by Postal Service employees who reported that the man’s behavior was suspicious.
A police department spokesperson later said the man had been “basically dumpster diving for things people through away and sometime people throw away personal information.” When officers searched the man’s vehicle, they found what they described as stolen mail that included W-2 forms and personal checks. He was charged with ID theft-related crimes including mail theft and possession of stolen mail.
While a casual observer might well wonder if a person who finds discarded items, including mail, is truly guilty of theft, these matters are typically not quite so simple or straightforward.
Here in Texas, identity theft is a felony. Unsurprisingly, punishment for an identity theft conviction can result in harsh punishment.
The severity of the punishment can depend on the number of ID items the defendant is in possession of. For instance, if the number is below five, an ID theft conviction can mean incarceration ranging from 180 days to two years in a Texas state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
IF the number is between five and nine, punishment is harsher: between two and 10 years in prison, plus that same fine.
If the number is between 10 and 49, the sentence rises to up to 20 years behind bars. And if the item number exceeds 50, possible prison sentences can go all the way up to 99 years.
Those facing ID theft charges should decline to speak to an investigator until they have talked to a Houston criminal defense attorney experienced in ID theft matters.