Caught Shoplifting in Texas? What You Should Know.
Shoplifting is a crime that can have serious consequences. If you find yourself caught or accused of shoplifting in Texas, it's essential to know your rights and the possible consequences of your actions. Below, we will discuss five things your should know concerning the legal process, your options, and steps you should take if you or a loved one have been accused of shoplifting.
1. Know the Law
Shoplifting is considered a type of theft in Texas, and the charges and penalties depend on the value of the stolen goods. If you are caught taking items worth $50 or less, you could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $500. However, if the value of the stolen goods is higher, the charges and penalties become more severe. Shoplifting is a:
- Class B misdemeanor when the property value taken is more than $100 but less than $750, which is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and 180 days in jail.
- Class A misdemeanor when the property value taken is $750 or more but less than $2,500, which is punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and 180 days in jail.
- State jail felony when the property value taken is more than $2,500 but less than $30,000, which is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and 180 days to two years in state jail.
- Third-degree felony when the property value taken is more than $30,000 but less than $150,000, which is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and two to ten years in prison.
- Second-degree felony when the property value taken is more than $150,000 or less than $300,000, which is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and two to twenty years in prison.
- First-degree felony when the property value taken is more than $300,000, which is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and five to ninety-nine years in prison.
2. Know Your Rights
First and foremost, it's essential to know your rights if you find yourself accused of shoplifting. You have the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. You can and should ask to speak with an attorney before answering any questions or signing anything from law enforcement or store representatives.
Additionally, it's essential to understand that store employees or security personnel do not have the authority to arrest or detain you, except under specific circumstances related to the Texas Shopkeeper's Privilege law. It allows store employees to briefly detain suspected shoplifters for questioning or to await the arrival of law enforcement.
3. Know How the Business Owner or Employees May Respond
If you have been caught shoplifting or accused of shoplifting in Texas, you will likely be reported to the police if the store employees feel confident in your guilt. While waiting for police to arrive, it is crucial to remain calm and not escalate the situation.
Any aggressive or threatening behavior could lead to additional charges, making your situation worse. Remember, you have the right to remain silent and not interact with store employees or security personnel once you have been detained.
4. Know What Can Happen After the Crime Is Reported
When the police arrive, they will decide whether to make an arrest based on the evidence available. If you have been arrested, it's essential to contact a criminal defense attorney who specializes in theft crimes in Texas. Depending on your case's details, your attorney can help reduce your charges, negotiate a plea deal, or fight for your innocence in court.
The court may order you to participate in restitution or community service if you are convicted of shoplifting. The court might also require you to pay fines and attend theft prevention classes.
Having a criminal conviction on your record can make it difficult to find employment opportunities. In some cases, it could affect professional licensing or lead to immigration consequences.
5. Know How to Prevent Future Shoplifting Charges
The best way to prevent being caught shoplifting in the future is simply not to take part in the activity. Instead, focus on finding ways to manage impulses or seek assistance for financial difficulties. If you feel that you have an issue with compulsive stealing, consider contacting a mental health professional for guidance.
Shoplifting is a serious crime in Texas with potentially severe consequences. It's important to know your rights and the legal process after being accused of shoplifting to help protect your future.
The Clark Law Firm is equipped to help you mount a solid defense in cases involving shoplifting and theft charges as well as juvenile offenses. Call (817) 435-4970 or reach out online to discuss your case with a member of our team.