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Misrepresentation of Property Law Image

Misrepresentation of Property

Misrepresentation of Property is a Texas offense found in Section 37.12(d) of the Penal Code. Penal Code Section 37.12 deals with false identification related to peace officers, but 37.12(d) is a separate offense under the statute and is somewhat different. In whole, the Misrepresentation of Property offense is described as follows: “A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly misrepresents an object as property belonging to a law enforcement agency.”

PC 37.12(d) was added to the Penal Code in 1987 (see 1987 Tex. ALS 514, 1987 Tex. Gen. Laws 514, 1987 Tex. HB 592). At the same time this subsection was added to PC 37.12, the words “Misrepresentation of Property” were added after a semicolon in the statute title such that the title of PC 37.12 is now “False Identification as a Peace Officer; Misrepresentation of Property.”

There is precious little in the legislative commentary regarding that change, as the Texas legislature noted before passing the bill for this crime into law, “[t]he importance of this legislation and the crowded condition of the calendars in both houses create an emergency and an imperative public necessity that the constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several days in each house be suspended, and this rule is hereby suspended.” Following the passage of this bill, the legislature has not amended or otherwise addressed this subsection.

If you have been charged with Misrepresentation of Property, it is imperative that you closely examine the statute with a criminal defense attorney to determine whether the behavior that the state’s attorney accuses even matches the offense.

What is the Misrepresentation of Property law?

Misrepresentation of Property is a Texas crime that is defined in Section 37.12(d) of the Penal Code. The law was updated in 2017 with the passage of H.B. 6831. The law in effect until September 1, 2017, is below with language additions coming into effect on September 1, 2017, in brackets:

(d) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly misrepresents an object[, including a vehicle,] as property belonging to a law enforcement agency. [For purposes of this subsection, intentionally or knowingly misrepresenting an object as property belonging to a law enforcement agency includes intentionally or knowingly displaying an item bearing an insignia of a law enforcement agency in a manner that would lead a reasonable person to interpret the item as property belonging to a law enforcement agency.]

A parallel update made by the 85th Legislature is the addition of a list of items that qualify as “an item bearing an insignia of a law enforcement agency”2.

(c-1) For purposes of this section, an item bearing an insignia of a law enforcement agency includes an item that contains the word “police,” “sheriff,” “constable,” or “trooper.”

It is important to note that the misrepresentation be specifically that of an object as belonging to a law enforcement agency. No other misrepresentation will satisfy this offense. The other subsections of 37.12 deal with other types of misrepresentations, and our reading of the statute is that 37.12(d) only deals with one specific kind of misrepresentation.

What are the other offenses in Texas related to false ID as a peace officer?

Other False ID as a Peace Officer charges are found in Texas PC 37.12.

What is the penalty for a conviction for “misrepresentation of property”?

Misrepresentation of Property is a Class B Misdemeanor, carrying a range of punishment of up to 180 days in county jail and up to a $2,000 fine. Learn more about the Range of Punishment for Texas crimes


Legal References:

1Texas Penal Code Section 37.12(d), as amended by House Bill 683, 85th Legislature, Section 3, effective September 1, 2017

1Texas Penal Code Section 37.12(c-1), as created by House Bill 683, 85th Legislature, Section 3, effective September 1, 2017

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