Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service: Texas Penal Code §33A.02

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service law gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you worked for a telecommunication service provider and used a telecommunications service for your own benefit or the benefit someone else without the proper authority.

The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 33A.02. The legislature did not update this law in 2023. In fact, this law has not been amended since 1997.

What is the current Texas law about Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service in Penal Code Section §33A.02 as follows:[1]

(a) A person commits an offense if the person is an officer, shareholder, partner, employee, agent, or independent contractor of a telecommunications service provider and the person knowingly and without authority uses or diverts telecommunications service for the person’s own benefit or to the benefit of another.

How can I be charged with an Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service offense in Texas?

You can be charged with Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 33A.02(a) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service in Texas?

Misdemeanor level Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service 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 Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service offense?

If the telecommunication device used is valued at less than $500 then a conviction for Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service in Texas is punished as a Class B misdemeanor,[4] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $2,000 and jail time of up to 180 days.

If the telecommunication device used is valued at more than $500 but less than $1,500 or the actor has been previously convicted of this offense then a conviction for Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service in Texas is punished as a Class A misdemeanor,[5] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $4,000 and jail time of up to one year.

If the telecommunication device used is valued at more than $1,500 but less than $20,000 or the actor has been previously convicted of this offense two or more times then a conviction for Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service in Texas is punished as a State Jail Felony,[6] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and jail time of up to 2 years.

If the telecommunication device used is valued at more than $20,000 but less than $100,000 then a conviction for Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service in Texas is punished as a Felony of the Third Degree,[7] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 10 years.

If the telecommunication device used is valued at more than $100,000 but less than $200,000 then a conviction for Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service in Texas is punished as a Felony of the Second Degree,[8] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 20 years.

If the telecommunication device used is valued at more than $200,000 then a conviction for Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service in Texas is punished as a Felony of the Second Degree,[9] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and life in prison. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors here.

Can you get probation for Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.[10]

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.[11]

What level of crime is Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service in Texas?

The Penal Code classification of the punishment for Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service ranges from a Class B misdemeanor to a first degree felony, depending on the value of the diverted service.

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


^1. Texas Penal Code §33A.02. 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 §33A.02(b)(1)^5. Texas Penal Code §33A.02(b)(2)^6. Texas Penal Code §33A.02(b)(3)^7. Texas Penal Code §33A.02(b)(4)^8. Texas Penal Code §33A.02(b)(5)^9. Texas Penal Code §33A.02(b)(6)^10. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .^11. Art. 42A.054(b), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure


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