Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle: Texas Penal Code §32.34

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle law gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you acquired a motor vehicle to transfer to a third party under certain fraudulent circumstances, including tranferring the vehicle knowing that the vehicle is subject to a lien or transferring it to the third party with the intent to defraud the vehicle’s true owner.

The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 32.34. The legislature did not update this law in 2023. In fact, this law has not been amended since 2015.

The Penal Code codifies the Texas Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle law under Title 7 “Offenses Against Property,” Chapter 32 “Fraud.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle below.

What is the current Texas law about Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle in Penal Code Section §32.34 as follows:[1]

(b) A person commits an offense if the person acquires, accepts possession of, or exercises control over the motor vehicle of another under a written or oral agreement to arrange for the transfer of the vehicle to a third party and:

(1) knowing the vehicle is subject to a security interest, lease, or lien, the person transfers the vehicle to a third party without first obtaining written authorization from the vehicle’s secured creditor, lessor, or lienholder;

(2) intending to defraud or harm the vehicle’s owner, the person transfers the vehicle to a third party;

(3) intending to defraud or harm the vehicle’s owner, the person disposes of the vehicle in a manner other than by transfer to a third party; or

(4) the person does not disclose the location of the vehicle on the request of the vehicle’s owner, secured creditor, lessor, or lienholder.

How can I be charged with a Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle offense in Texas?

You can be charged with Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 32.34(b) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle in Texas?

Misdemeanor level Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle charges have a two-year limitations period.[2] Felony-level offenses have a three-year limitations period.[3]

What is the penalty for a Texas Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle offense?

If the offense falls under subsection (b)(1), (b)(2), or (b)(3) and the motor vehicle’s value is less than $30,000 then a conviction for Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle in Texas is punished as a State Jail Felony,[4] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and jail time of up to 2 years.

If the offense falls under subsection (b)(1), (b)(2), or (b)(3) and the motor vehicle’s value is $30,000 or more but less than 150,000 then a conviction is punished as a Felony of the Third Degree,[5] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 10 years.

If the offense falls under subsection (b)(1), (b)(2), or (b)(3) and the motor vehicle’s value is $150,000 or more but less than 300,000 then a conviction is punished as a Felony of the Second Degree,[6] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 20 years.

If the offense falls under subsection (b)(1), (b)(2), or (b)(3) and the motor vehicle’s value is $300,000 or more then a conviction is punished as a Felony of the First Degree,[7] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and up to life in prison.

If the offense falls under subsection (b)(4) then conviction is punished as a Class A misdemeanor,[8] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $4,000 and jail time of up to one year. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors here.

Can you get probation for Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.[9]

Note, however, that no matter the offense, neither judges nor juries may recommend community supervision for any suspended sentence of over 10 years.[10] Also, judges may not grant community supervision after a conviction if (1) the defendant used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of the felony or immediate flight thereafter and (2) the defendant used or exhibited the deadly weapon himself or was a party to the offense and knew that a deadly weapon would be used or exhibited.[11]

What level of crime is Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle in Texas?

The Penal Code classification of the punishment for Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle ranges from a Class A misdemeanor to a first degree felony, depending on the value of the motor vehicle and other circumstances.

Learn more about the penalty range for this offense in the section above.


^1. Texas Penal Code §32.34. This law is current as of the 88th Legislature Regular Session.^2. Code of Criminal Procedure 12.02(a)^3. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.01(9)^4. Texas Penal Code §32.34(f)(1)^5. Texas Penal Code §32.34(f)(2)^6. Texas Penal Code §32.34(f)(3)^7. Texas Penal Code §32.34(f)(4)^8. Texas Penal Code §32.34(g)^9. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .^10. Art. 42A.053(c), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure^11. Art. 42A.054(b), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure


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