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Fraudulent Destruction, Removal, or Concealment of Writing

The Fraudulent Destruction, Removal, or Concealment of Writing crime in the state of Texas gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you destroyed or otherwise impaired certain kinds of documents, currency or other types of “writings.” Learn more detailed information about the Fraudulent Destruction, Removal, or Concealment of Writing offense below.

Update: The 86th Texas Legislature amended the penalty scheme for this offense, effective as of September 1, 2019. Learn more about these changes below.

Have you been charged with Fraudulent Destruction, Removal, or Concealment of Writing? Call criminal lawyer Paul Saputo at (888) 239-9305.

Fraudulent Destruction, Removal, or Concealment of Writing is classified in the Texas Penal Code under Title 7 “Offenses Against Property,” Chapter 32 “Fraud.”

What is the law in Texas about Fraudulent Destruction, Removal, or Concealment of Writing?

The offense is described in Section 32.47 of the Texas Penal Code.

(a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to defraud or harm another, he destroys, removes, conceals, alters, substitutes, or otherwise impairs the verity, legibility, or availability of a writing, other than a governmental record.

Writings are defined in the statute to include (the word “include” implies that this is not an exhaustive list):1

(1) printing or any other method of recording information;

(2) money, coins, tokens, stamps, seals, credit cards, badges, trademarks;

(3) symbols of value, right, privilege, or identification; and

(4) universal product codes, labels, price tags, or markings on goods.

How can I be charged with Fraudulent Destruction, Removal, or Concealment of Writing?

You can be charged with Fraudulent Destruction, Removal, or Concealment of Writing if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 32.47(a) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the punishment for Fraudulent Destruction, Removal, or Concealment of Writing?

A conviction for Fraudulent Destruction, Removal, or Concealment of Writing is punished by default as a Class A misdemeanor,2 with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $4,000 and jail time of up to one year.

However, if the writing is a will, deed, or mortgage, then a conviction for Fraudulent Destruction, Removal, or Concealment of Writing is punished as a State Jail Felony,3 with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and jail time of up to two years. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors

A separate penalty scheme was created with the passage of HB 427 in the 86th Texas Legislature, effective September 1, 2019. This new penalty classification scheme targets “price tag switching,” and the offense class for these cases can be anywhere from a Class C misdemeanor to a first degree felony. The bill provides a higher grade of offense for larger differences between the value of the item and the amount on the switched tag. For more information on this penalty scheme, see note 4 below.


Legal References:

1Texas Penal Code Section 32.47(b)

2Texas Penal Code Section 32.47(c)

3Texas Penal Code Section 32.47(d)

4 Texas Penal Code Section 32.47(e), as enacted by HB 427, 86th Texas Legislature, effective September 1, 2019 –

If at the time of the offense the writing was attached to tangible property to indicate the price for the sale of that property and the actor engaged in the conduct described by Subsection (a) with respect to that writing for the purpose of obtaining the property for a lesser price indicated by a separate writing, an offense under this section is:

(1) a Class C misdemeanor if the difference between the impaired writing and the lesser price indicated by the other writing is less than $100;

(2) a Class B misdemeanor if the difference between the impaired writing and the lesser price indicated by the other writing is $100 or more but less than $750;

(3) a Class A misdemeanor if the difference between the impaired writing and the lesser price indicated by the other writing is $750 or more but less than $2,500;

(4) a state jail felony if the difference between the impaired writing and the lesser price indicated by the other writing is $2,500 or more but less than $30,000;

(5) a felony of the third degree if the difference between the impaired writing and the lesser price indicated by the other writing is $30,000 or more but less than $150,000;

(6) a felony of the second degree if the difference between the impaired writing and the lesser price indicated by the other writing is $150,000 or more but less than $300,000; or

(7) a felony of the first degree if the difference between the impaired writing and the lesser price indicated by the other writing is $300,000 or more.

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