Posted on

What to do if you’re accused of shoplifting or employee theft

Retail Store

Being charged with shoplifting or theft is a serious offense, that in the worst of cases, can even end in jail time. If you are an employee being accused of theft in your place of work, you may also face even harsher punishment. In this article, we’ll break down the differences between shoplifting and employee theft and prepare you for what to do should you find yourself facing either of these situations.

Shoplifting

If you are accused of shoplifting, it is likely that a security officer or loss prevention professional will detain you until the police arrive. However, you still don’t have to make a statement, even if you are being held. It is best to keep quiet and ask to call a lawyer before making any formal or casual statements.

In some situations, loss prevention officials might try to add, or mistake other items in your possession for other stolen goods. If you have purchased items during this trip, make sure to keep your receipt so that you can prove the actual amount of stolen items and are not accused of more than necessary. The cost of stolen goods is significant in this case because anything taken up to $100 is considered a Class B felony, but if the amount exceeds $100, then you will need to be arraigned on the charges, which is a much more serious matter to deal with.

Employee Theft

Employee theft, while also a more severe offense than shoplifting, can be more difficult to prove. Don’t say anything to security or officers until you have a lawyer present or you run the risk of incriminating yourself. That includes offering to return stolen items, paying for them, or replacing the stolen money. Always consult a lawyer before making any statements if you are being accused.

In the case of employee theft, is over $750 or goods valued at that amount or higher, you could be facing a class A misdemeanor. In these cases, items that you have already purchased or are on your person may be mistakenly classified as stolen goods as well, so it’s important not to sign anything or make any statements without consulting with a lawyer. You don’t want to sign paperwork accusing you of stealing $5,000, which would be considered a felony if you only took $1,000 worth of property.

In either of these situations, it is crucial to remain calm and not to panic. Making a scene or immediately accusing officials of lying will only make matters worse and draw further attention to the situation. If you are being charged with employee theft or shoplifting, calmly ask to speak to a lawyer before making any statements with the police, officials at the scene, or the shop owners. You may feel initial guilt and offer to pay the amount back immediately. However, it is in your best interest to remain quiet until you know precisely what the outcomes of the situation can be. These are not offenses to be taken lightly and many times shop owners will not offer forgiveness, no matter how apologetic you are following the incident.

Posted on

CBD Oil & the Texas Compassionate Use Act

There’s a lot of buzz around the growing CBD and cannabis industry, and the effects CBD oil can have on people dealing with various ailments. While the industry is growing and becoming more mainstream, there are still a lot of unanswered questions around it, which can cause quite a bit of confusion with consumers, especially in the state of Texas.

The Texas Compassionate Use Act, Explained

The Texas Compassionate Use Act, passed in 2015, established a registry of physicians use low-THC cannabis to treat patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. This legislation raised some questions about how this impacts residents and public safety.  As of this year, this law only covers the medical use of low-THC cannabis as prescribed by a physician and strictly excludes “smoking” as a form of consumption.

The Compassionate Use Act is limited and only applies to patients in the state of Texas with intractable epilepsy.

In 2017, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued licenses to three organizations that have the legal right to dispense low-THC products to qualified patients. The permits gave these specific organizations the authority to grow, process and distribute low-THC cannabis to patients with a valid prescription. Currently, these three organizations include Cansortium Texas, Compassionate Cultivation and, Surterra Texas.

If the state determines a greater need for access to more registered organizations, then they will begin the process of reviving and issuing additional licenses.

Once a physician issues a prescription, the organization then dispenses the product which includes a label with information that would assist law enforcement in confirming the legitimacy of the medicine and present proof of the patients legal right to possession of the product.

This Act does not give private citizens the right to grow their own cannabis, even if it is a low-THC strain. All patients are required to purchase their low-THC marijuana from a licensed dispensing organization.

Under the Texas Occupations Code, “Low-THC Cannabis” is defined as a Cannabis Sativa that does not contain more than 0.5 percent by weight of tetrahydrocannabinol and 10 percent by weight of cannabidiol.

On a related note, CBD is making it’s way into millions of households nationwide as a way to curb anxiety and treat another number of issues including headaches, acne and more. While CBD is a legal substance in the United States, it’s unregulated nature can make it difficult to understand the real effects of the product both physically and legally.

Things to Watch Out for with CBD Oil

The fact of the matter is that CBD oil is not approved or regulated by the FDA, so it can be difficult for consumers to know exactly what they’re getting. It’s possible that certain CBD products include traces of THC, which would make the product illegal in the state of Texas.

If you are found in possession of CBD oil or gummies that contain traces of THC, you could be charged with a felony due to the concentrated nature of the substance. Even though CBD is not an illegal substance is still is not protected or regulated nationally under the law, which means you will lose in court under the argument that you didn’t know it contained THC.

Posted on

What To Do When You’re Charged with Domestic Violence

wedding ring

If you have been charged with a domestic violence offense, it’s important to know what will happen next and how your behavior and reaction could affect your future.  In cases like these, there is a certain protocol that you should follow in order to not cause further damage or escalate the situation even more.

According to Texas Law, domestic violence is referred to as both “domestic violence” and “family violence.” Domestic violence, under these laws, means an assault took place against a member of the household, family member or current (or past) partner. In Texas, these laws not only apply to spouses, but to other people living in the same household as well as people you are related to through blood or affinity.  This includes foster and children, and unmarried couples in a “dating” relationship.

Under accordance of Texas law, you can be charged with domestic violence if you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly, cause bodily injury to another person, threaten another person with an injury or create physical contact with another person that is seen as provocative or offensive.

There are a few things you need to keep in mind, after being charged with a domestic assault, that will alleviate additional trouble you could face in the future.

Here is what NOT to do when dealing with a domestic violence arrest.

Do not attempt to explain your side of the story without a lawyer present. You may feel compelled to explain the situation to the police, but this is against your best interests. A police officer might tell you that you can straighten this out together, but under no circumstances should you meet with the police without a lawyer present.

If asked to explain or describe the situation, simply say “No, I don’t have anything to share at this time,” and contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

Avoid all communication with the person or people involved in the conflict since they, or the police, may be able to use anything you say at this time against you in court. It is definitely not the time to make threatening or harassing comments. Your best course of action is to remain quiet until you have a chance to speak with a lawyer.

If the incident involved a person or people that you live with, be prepared to find a new place to stay at least for the duration of the case.

Don’t talk to witnesses or anyone else involved in the incident. Despite your intentions, this can be seen as witness tampering or harassment and will escalate the situation further in the eyes of the law. Don’t ask witnesses to talk to the police for you. The best thing to do is to talk candidly with your lawyer about the best course of action moving forward.

Avoid making excuses or creating a “yeah, but…” defense. For example, saying “yeah but she hit me first” is not in your best interest in this situation.

Domestic violence charges are very serious in the eyes of Texas law and can have a big impact on your life. It’s important not to take these charges lightly, or assume that if you ignore them they will just go away. Get in touch with an attorney as soon as you can to learn about your options and to inform yourself of how to proceed on moving forward with the case and with your life.

Posted on

Understand the Logistics of a Jail Visit

Jail Wall

The visit will likely be conducted either via a telephone and closed circuit tv screen or through a dividing glass wall. Prepare yourself for the fact that you might not be allowed to make any physical contact with your loved one during the visit. You may not pass them any notes, money or personal items. Visitation rooms tend to get crowded and hectic during open hours. People from all walks of life will surround you. Be respectful of them and their right to visit their loved ones but don’t be afraid to ask that others are respectful of your visit as well. If someone is interfering with your right to have a meaningful visit with your loved one, notify a corrections officer.

Prepare what you want to talk about

Plan ahead regarding what you want to discuss with your loved one during the visit. Time will be limited to about 15-30 minutes, and extensions are not likely to be granted. To avoid running out of time, make a list of the things that need to be addressed. Important talking points include:

  • Does your loved one require you to bring prescription medication to the jail?
  • Is there housing or employment issues that need o to be taken care of for your or your loved one while they’re incarcerated?
  • Does your loved one need help retaining an attorney?

As a general matter, county jails will not allow inmates to release items in their personal property to civilians; however, most prisons make exceptions for crucial things like house keys and government benefit cards. If you need to retrieve something from your loved one’s belongings, you will have to fill out the proper documentation first.

Never discuss the facts of a pending criminal case when visiting. While most jail visits are not recorded (unlike inmate phone calls), you never know who is listening. If you have relevant, confidential information regarding the case, its best to go through an attorney rather than tell them in person.

Though it may be difficult, try to keep the conversation as positive as possible. Remind your loved one that you support them and encourage them to take part in any programming provided at the jail such as anger management classes or AA meetings.

Expect a request for money

Prepare yourself for the fact that your loved one will likely ask you to give them some money for phone calls and commissary. Commissary is similar to a general store that operates within the jail. Inmates can buy snacks, toiletries, and other personal items to help make their stay more tolerable. You will not be allowed to hand over cash during your visit, but you may be able to transfer money to your loved one using a kiosk in the lobby. The officials at the jail will have information about transferring money.

Know the rules and follow them

Don’t ask for special treatment from the jail officials or corrections officers. Respect the rules and follow them at all times while at the jail. It’s important to be polite to the corrections officers. Although the officers may not always show you the same courtesy, try to remember that they have a very stressful and challenging job. If you think you are being treated poorly, explain how you called ahead to learn the rules, what you were told, and what you need. Then politely ask to speak to a supervisor.

Posted on

4 Ways To Prepare To Visit Your Loved One In Jail

Someone in Jail

Visiting your loved one in county jail can be a stressful and emotionally trying experience. It’s important to plan ahead so that you have a clear idea of what to expect during the visit. This will help to keep your nerves calm and have a successful visit.

Have the most up to date information on hand

The best way to get up to date and accurate information regarding visitation is to contact the sheriff’s office in the county where your loved is incarcerated. Local sheriffs departments operate most jails in the US, so they’ll likely have the most recent information and rules of the jail. Many jails also have easy to navigate websites which makes it easy to publically access the vital information about things like visitation and other regulations.

Schedule your visit ahead of time

Before making arrangements to visit your loved one, you need to check the inmate visitation schedule. The schedule is usually arranged by the last name, inmate number or where they’re housed within the facility. Inmates typically get at least one social visit per week, and sometimes they may be responsible for setting up the session in advance themselves.

Your loved one can schedule a visitation from a kiosk within their cell block or by submitting a form to the jail administration. Make sure your loved one has requested and been approved for your visit at least 24 hours ahead of your planned visit to be sure.

Keep in mind that the jail limits inmates to a certain number of visits per week and usually no more than one visit per day so you may want to coordinate a schedule with other potential visitors. Visitation is generally done during the evenings and on the weekend. Inmates segregated for health reasons, security concerns or rule violations may have significantly reduced visitation opportunities.

While visits are generally limited to just one adult per session, many jails allow you to bring a child as well. Just make sure the child is well behaved and mature enough to handle the adult atmosphere of a jail visit.

Arrive at least 15 minutes early for the visit

Most county jails are overcrowded, so it’s likely that you’ll experience extended wait lines for visitations.

Be smart about what you bring with you

Make sure you have a valid state ID when you check in. Also, keep in mind that many local jails don’t allow cell phones the building. The safest thing to do is to leave your technology at home or in the car. Some prisons have lockers for you to store your stuff in, but they might cost money so bring coins if you plan to use one.

Security is tight for all visitors entering the jail. Expect to pass through a metal detector and be searched by armed guards. Be cautious of wearing jewelry, underwire bras or body piercings. Also carefully check what you are carrying with you into the jail.

Make sure you don’t have any knives, razors, or anything that could be used a weapon. If you have a handbag, check the contents of the bag ahead of time or leave it in the car to be sage. Do not try to bring things for your loved without asking the jail for permission ahead of time.

Prepare yourself mentally

You can prepare as much as possible, but remember to stay calm during the visit and not let the stress of the surrounding situation get to you.

What to Expect When a Visiting Loved One in County Jail

Visiting a loved one in jail can be a stressful event; however, there are things you can do to prepare for the visit (link here to the previous article) to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. It’s important to understand how the visitation process works and what you might encounter during the visit, to make it a seamless experience.

We want you to be prepared, so we’ve outlined four things to keep in mind before visiting your loved one in the county jail.

Posted on

Dealing with Bond Issues When Your Loved One is Arrested

Male in Handcuffs

When you find out that your loved one is arrested, you might feel the urge instantly enter problem-solving mode. Parts of the situation are out of your hands, but helping your loved one post bond is one of the most helpful things you can do to help get them temporarily out of jail.

Collect information

Find out the name of the arresting agency and the name of arresting officer(s) to have for future reference. Ask the officer where your loved one is being booked and where you can bond them out. In some cases, your loved one may qualify for recognizance or signature bond. This means they will be referred from jail after they go through booking procedures without having to post the bond.

Determine the charge

Ask the arresting officer or the jail what the specific charge was. You can also ask to see a document called the charging instrument which lists the exact name of the alleged crime and the particular code section.

Think twice before contacting a bondsman

If your loved one is held to a high money bond, then you may want to consider contacting a bail bondsman. These are individuals and businesses who lend money to people to post bond. It might seem like a good idea under pressure, but there are grave risks associated with bail bond agencies. Talk to your lawyer first to come up with other options before resorting to a bondsman.

Post bond

When posting bond, you might be required to pay an additional $50 fee. Most county jails have a bond out window somewhere in the administrative section of the building. You should think of the bond as a gift to your friend or loved one. Don’t plan on getting the money back. Bond may be forfeited for failure to appear at future court dates; it may be assigned your loved one’s attorney, or it may be used to pay your loved one’s fines and court costs. If there is any bond left over after the resolution of the case, it will be refunded to the person who posted the bond minus an administrative fee of usually about 10% of the bond amount.

Arrange a ride

Don’t forget to arrange a ride for your loved one upon their release on bond. Some police stations and county jails are not in the safest neighborhoods, so you don’t want your loved one stranded there without a ride.

Take care of day to day needs

If your loved one can’t post bond, they may need your help with other things until their release. For example, you might need to provide the jail with your loved one’s prescriptions. You also may want to contact their school, job or other obligations and inform them of their absence. Also, keep in mind things like rent and bills that need to be paid while you’re loved one is incarcerated.

Posted on

What To Do When Your Loved One is Arrested

Handcuffs When Arrested

It’s never a fun day when a loved gets arrested. You want to help, but if you’ve never been in this situation, you won’t know what to do or who to call.

We’re here to help. In this article, you’ll learn what steps to take to assist and comfort your loved one during the aftermath of the arrest. Depending on where you are at the time of the arrest, there are different ways to react to ensure the best possible outcome.

If you are present at the time of the arrest

Gather information

At the moment, it’s important to keep calm and not panic. You will want to be level-headed and calm when approaching the situation. First, ask the officers if your loved one is free to go or if they’re being detained. If they’ve been arrested, you are allowed to ask why. If the arrest happened under a warrant, ask which jurisdiction issued the order and how much to expect to pay for the bond.

Always be respectful

It is okay to ask the police questions, but be respectful when talking to law enforcement. As long as you are not getting in the way of them doing their jobs, and ask politely, they will provide with the necessary information you need.

Be reassuring and available

If you can speak to your loved one before they’re taken to the station, tell them not to answer any questions beyond the standard booking questions. Tell them that you will do your best to bond them out of as fast as possible. It’s also comforting to let them know that you will contact an attorney for them.

If your loved one calls from jail

Don’t ask for details

Remember that virtually all police stations record phone calls and the prosecution will obtain a copy of the recording, so don’t ask for more information over the phone. Don’t ask about the circumstances leading up to the event surrounding your loved one’s arrest. Instead, ask what facility they are.

Urge them to remain silent

Tell your loved one not to discuss the case with anyone until they meet with a lawyer. Help them get through police interrogations by telling them exactly what to say which is “I don’t want to answer questions. I want to talk to a lawyer.”

Contact a criminal defense lawyer

There is a lot at stake immediately after the arrest, so don’t delay hiring a lawyer as soon as possible. You will need a criminal defense lawyer on your side. Inform your loved one’s attorney of exactly where they are being held and urge them to get down there as soon as possible to speak to their client.

If you hear about the arrest from a third party

Find your loved one

You may be able to find your loved one using your local government’s website, but don’t waste time or money on a commercial inmate locator. Note that it will take some time for your loved one to show up on the computer. You can also call your local non-emergency line for help. When calling, have as much information as possible, including their full name and date of birth. You can also look up the number for your country jail and call there to speak with the booking department directly. If your loved one is being housed a local precinct, it is helpful if you know where the arrest took place when it occurred, and your loved one’s current address.

Remain calm

Your loved one will be scared and desperate to get out of custody, so you need to reflect calm and reassurance. Remind them that they are not alone and you will work to get them out of custody as soon as possible.