Q: Is there a law that covers interstate theft of service? Regarding Instrument rentals not paid for or returned to us.
We are a small business that rents ($700-$8,000) instruments nation wide. We have delinquent accounts that we have not been able to recover the money or the instrument. I would like to sight a legal statute in our delinquency letters. I would also like to be able to use legal recourse when I can.
While I know of no law that specifically covers “interstate” theft of service, section 31.02 of the Texas Penal Code clearly covers your situation.
It is fairly complex when it comes to a person not returning rented items. There are somewhat different provisions if it was a rent-to-own versus a pure rental agreement.
Some of the issues surrounding these provisions are discussed in the following article: https://www.texastribune.org/2019/06/21/new-texas-law-protects-rent-own-customers-against-criminal-prosecution/
Note that individual district attorneys have considerable prosecutorial discretion when it comes to individual cases. There is a recent trend among district attorneys with “progressive” political leaning to refrain from prosecuting anyone for minor theft transgressions. And in many areas, law enforcement will tell you it’s a civil matter and not even submit the complaint to the district attorney.
A: One option to explore might be to consult with attorneys in the states in which the open accounts sit, if it pays to take action in those states. Good luck
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