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By Benson Varghese

Published on: April 4th, 2016 at 9:15 AM
Last Updated: September 1st, 2020 at 8:56 PM

Penal Code Section 39.02 makes it illegal for a public servant to use government property, services, personnel, or anything of value, that comes into the public servant’s possession by virtue of the public servant’s office. The mental state requirement for this offense is that the public servant intended to obtain a benefit while intentionally or knowingly committing the act in question.

This offense ranges from a Class C misdemeanor if the value of the thing used was less than $100 to a first-degree felony if the value of the thing used was $300,000 or more.

ValueOffense LevelPunishment Range
Under $100Class CUp to $500 fine
$100 – $750Class BUp to 180 days in jail
$750- $2,500Class A Up to 1 year in jail
$2,500 – $30,000State Jail180 days – 2 years in State Jail
$30,000-$150,000Third Degree 2-10 years in prison
$150,000-$300,000Second Degree 2-20 years in prison
Upwards of $300,000First Degree 5-99 years/life

For example: State officers and employees are prohibited from using a state computer on state time to send email messages to co-workers urging them to vote for a certain candidate in an upcoming election. Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson may have missed that.

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