Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information: Texas Penal Code §31.17

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information law gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you obtained credit or debit card information when you were not authorized to do so.

The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 31.17. 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 Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information law under Title 7 “Offenses Against Property,” Chapter 31 “Theft.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information below.

What is the current Texas law about Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information in Penal Code Section §31.17 as follows:[1]

(b) A person commits an offense if the person, knowing that the person is not entitled to obtain or possess that financial information:

(1) obtains the financial sight order or payment card information of another by use of an electronic, photographic, visual imaging, recording, or other device capable of accessing, reading, recording, capturing, copying, imaging, scanning, reproducing, or storing in any manner the financial sight order or payment card information; or

(2) transfers to a third party information obtained as described by Subdivision (1).

How can I be charged with an Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information offense in Texas?

You can be charged with Unauthorized Acquisition Or Transfer Of Certain Financial Information in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 31.17(b) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information in Texas?

As a misdemeanor, Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information charges have a two-year limitations period.[2]

What is the penalty for a Texas Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information offense?

If the offense falls under subsection (b)(1) then a conviction for Unauthorized Acquisition Or Transfer Of Certain Financial Information in Texas is punished as a Class B misdemeanor,[3] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $2,000 and jail time of up to 180 days.

If the offense falls under subsection (b)(2) then a conviction for Unauthorized Acquisition Or Transfer Of Certain Financial Information 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 here.

Can you get probation for Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information, 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 Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies the punishment for an Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information offense under subsection (b)(1) as a Class B misdemeanor, and an offense under subsection (b)(2) as a Class A misdemeanor.

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


^1. Texas Penal Code §31.17. This law is current as of the 88th Legislature Regular Session.^2. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.02(a)^3. Texas Penal Code §31.17(c)^4. Texas Penal Code §31.17(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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