What You Neeed To Know About Shoplifting
Shoplifting is a harmless crime, right? Wrong. Besides the humiliation you may face, being convicted of theft will seriously affect your future, and many obstacles may arise.
Theft crimes are classified by the nature of the offense and the value of property stolen under the Texas Penal Code 31. Shoplifting is prosecuted as “theft” because it involves the unlawful taking of someone else’s property without their consent.
What is shoplifting?
When most people think of shoplifting, they imagine someone stuffing an item in their pocket and walking out of the store without paying for it. Yes, this is shoplifting; however, there are other ways in which someone can shoplift. For example:
- Switching price tags to avoid paying full price to the retailer.
- Eating at a restaurant and leaving without paying the bill. This is also known as ‘dine and dash’.
- Knowingly writing a bad check for goods.
- Hiding stolen merchandise for someone else to steal it.
What happens if you are convicted of shoplifting?
If you have been accused of shoplifting, the sentencing guidelines in Texas are the same as other forms of theft. These penalties are described in Section 31.03 of the Texas Penal Code.
The most common charge prosecuted in shoplifting cases is Misdemeanor theft. Class C, B, and A misdemeanors depend on the value of the property stolen:
- Class C misdemeanor- The value of the property stolen is valued less than $50.
- Class B misdemeanor- The value of the property stolen is valued between $50 and $500.
- Class A misdemeanor- The value of the property stolen is valued between $500 and $1,500.
The most serious theft charges one can face are a felony in the first, second, or third degree. All degrees can come with a fine of up to $10,000.
Third degree: The value of the property stolen range from $20K-$100K, can result in two to ten years imprisonment.
Second degree: The value of the property stolen ranges from $100K-$200K, can result in two to 20 years imprisonment.
First degree: The value of the property stolen ranges from $200K or more, can result in life imprisonment or five to 99 years imprisonment.
If lawmakers identify a crime as a felony, but it is not designated as a particular kind of felony or set a specific sentence, then the felony is a state jail felony.
State jail felony theft: The value of the property stolen ranges from $1,500-$20,000, can result in 180 days to two years imprisonment.
Your criminal history plays a significant role in the severity of charges and penalties you face for a shoplifting offense. Prior convictions have the potential to result in more severe penalties.
If you have had a prior shoplifting offense, a Class C misdemeanor may be elevated to a Class B misdemeanor regardless if the property taken is valued under $50.
If you have had more than one other prior conviction, the offense may be elevated to state jail instead of a misdemeanor offense, even if the stolen property was valued less than $1,500.
You could be charged with organized retail theft if you are accused of working with a team to commit the shoplifting crime. Organized retail theft falls under Section 31.16 of the Texas Penal Code in which a person can be charged if they willingly conducted or facilitated an activity in which a person receives, possesses, conceals, stores sells or disposes of stolen retail merchandise of a total value not less than $1,500. The severity of the crime may be increased if found guilty of organizing or managing others in an organized theft scheme.
The impacts you face if found guilty of shoplifting
Being convicted of any crime can lead to serious obstacles later in life. Remember that many employers run background checks as part of the hiring process. This type of crime is considered a serious act of dishonesty which will make it difficult for employers to trust you.
Rental companies will typically run a criminal check before making a decision. Having a shoplifting conviction on your record may make it difficult to get an approval.
The store you shoplifted from may permanently ban you from the store. Not only will this be embarrassing, but it could also cause you inconvenience. Depending on the store that you shoplifted from, you may face problems getting necessities.
A conviction could disqualify you from specific graduate or professional programs.
Will a shoplifting attorney help?
Even though you should take charges seriously, your life is not over. It is in your best interest to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Having top-notch legal advice can have a serious impact on your future and freedom.
You have the right to remain silent while you are being questioned. Always request to speak with an attorney. Keep in mind law enforcement officials are trained to get the most out of you during an interrogation.
Having an attorney by your side while you are being questioned will avoid possibly incriminating yourself and ensure that your rights are protected. This can make a difference in how successful the outcome of your case is.
An attorney can defend your interests by:
- Reviewing the evidence
- Developing a legal strategy
- Representing you in court hearings
- Interviewing prosecution witnesses for weakness in their testimony
- Pursuing new leads by gathering new evidence
- Defending you at trial
How The Carlson Law Firm can help
When it comes to legal representation for a theft charge, you want someone who will actively investigate and aggressively fight to get you the best possible outcome. At The Carlson Law Firm, we have extensive experience representing those charged with a crime. We will work every angle of your case to have your charges lowered or dropped. We offer free consultations and are available 24/7. We care, we can help.
Contact us for a free case evaluation.