Possession, Manufacture, or Distribution of Certain Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft: Texas Penal Code §31.15

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Possession, Manufacture, or Distribution of Certain Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft law gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you used a shielding or deactivation device, or sold, offered to sell, or manufactured a deactivation device with the intent to commit theft.

The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 31.15. The legislature did not update this law in 2023. In fact, this law has not been amended since 2011.

The Penal Code codifies the Texas Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft law under Title 7 “Offenses Against Property,” Chapter 31 “Theft.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Possession, Manufacture, or Distribution of Certain Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft below.

What is the current Texas law about Possession, Manufacture, or Distribution of Certain Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Possession, Manufacture, or Distribution of Certain Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft in Penal Code Section §31.15 as follows:[1]

(b) A person commits an offense if, with the intent to use the instrument to commit theft, the person:

(1) possesses a shielding or deactivation instrument; or

(2) knowingly manufactures, sells, offers for sale, or otherwise distributes a shielding or deactivation instrument.

Subsection (a) of this law was repealed in 2011.[2]

How can I be charged with a Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft offense in Texas?

You can be charged with Possession, Manufacture, or Distribution of Certain Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 31.15(b) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft in Texas?

As a misdemeanor, Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft charges have a two-year limitations period.[3]

What is the penalty for a Texas Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft offense?

A conviction for Possession, Manufacture, or Distribution of Certain Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft in Texas is punished as a Class A misdemeanor,[4] 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

Can you get probation for Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.[5]

Note, however, that 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.[6]

What level of crime is Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies the punishment for Instruments Used to Commit Retail Theft as a Class A misdemeanor.

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


^1. Texas Penal Code §31.15. This law is current as of the 88th Legislature Regular Session.^2. HB 2482, 82nd Texas Legislature, Section 4^3. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.02(a)^4. Texas Penal Code §31.15(c)^5. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .^6. Art. 42A.054(b), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure

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