The Texas Crime Report for 2018 shows 5,319 juvenile arrests and 58,426 adult arrests for larceny-theft, not including cars.
In Texas, theft and larceny are the same thing. They mean you are taking property that belongs to another person or organization with the intent of keeping that item from them. Under Texas law, shoplifting is considered theft.
Shoplifting carries serious penalties that can affect you for the rest of your life. We are going to share how to fight a shoplifting charge.
When loss prevention accuses you of shoplifting, the goal is to put yourself into a position for the best possible outcome.
The number one rule is “do not run.” This gives a negative impression and screams “I’m guilty.” Be polite, but do not divulge any information.
Act as if you are being stopped by law enforcement. Do not make any sudden movements. Keep your hands visible so they do not assume you are reaching for a weapon.
Do not make any statements to loss prevention, nor to the police when they arrive. Ask to contact an attorney and have your attorney present during questioning.
If you made a legitimate purchase, do not give loss prevention your receipt. Retain the receipt to prove your purchases made during the trip. You need to prevent their claiming theft of more items you took.
The amount of stolen goods is significant because up to $100 is a Class C misdemeanor. Any item over that amount is a more serious matter.
Do not try to reason with loss prevention or bargain for release. Any such attempts will be used against you. Do not sign anything at the store. Make sure your attorney reviews any agreements or offers prior to signing.
Texas law states that theft covers a wide range of crimes and happens when a person takes something that belongs to another. This is done with the intent of permanently depriving the person or company of that item. Shoplifting falls within that theft definition.
Attempting to remove security devices also falls within shoplifting. The law states shoplifting includes to possess, manufacture, or distribute shielding or deactivating instruments used for shoplifting.
Shoplifting classes and penalties are as follows:
A conviction will leave a permanent mark on your criminal record and may affect your ability to obtain or retain employment. If convicted of a felony you will not be allowed to own or possess firearms.
As with any crime, a prosecuting attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you have committed a crime. In a Texas shoplifting case they must prove the following:
Your Texas theft attorney will review each of these elements, comparing them to the evidence the prosecution is using against you. The attorney will look for ways to question the evidence.
The two elements of shoplifting are 1) intentionally concealing or possessing an item the retailer has for sale, and 2) your intent to permanently deprive the retailer of that item without paying for it.
The keyword here is intent, if the intent to complete these acts is not present, the attorney may be able to get the prosecution to dismiss the charges.
The majority of retailers have surveillance cameras running, and that footage will provide the prosecution with the evidence they need to prove their case. If there is discriminating evidence that proves your guilt, your attorney will work to obtain a favorable plea bargain.
If that surveillance footage shows that loss prevention has made an error in their analysis, your attorney will fight to have the prosecution dismiss the charges.
There are incidents where a retailer makes an honest mistake and you become the victim of that error.
Perhaps they were watching you carry an item around but didn’t see you sit it on a shelf, before leaving the store. They believe you have the item and detain you for theft. You have to remove the item from the store for shoplifting to happen.
You went through the check out line, the clerk scanned and placed everything in your bag, but alarms go off when you exit the store. In this case, the clerk made the error, and there is likely surveillance footage that will prove the error.
In these scenarios, the prosecution may attempt to proceed with charges. Your theft attorney will fight for the prosecution to dismiss or reduce the charges.
If you are accused of shoplifting your attorney will look at the elements of the crime against the evidence the prosecution is presenting. They will look at whether your constitutional rights were violated during the arrest.
Your theft attorney will negotiate to obtain the best plea possible on your behalf. If this is your first offense they may be able to reach an agreement for a diversion program.
This program allows you to attend counseling, do community service, and pay restitution to the retailer. The court will dismiss the charges upon completion of the program.
When you or a loved one are facing charges for a crime it can be embarrassing. Many people try to handle things on their own with dire consequences.
If you are facing a shoplifting charge take a proactive approach and contact the law office of Christopher T. Gore. You can schedule a virtual consultation online or if you have been arrested call (713) 903-7608 to talk to me immediately.