Shoplifting – Texas Misdemeanor
This time of year is fraught with excitement. People are hustling to get their holiday shopping completed. The stores are packed with people and everyone is busy and rushed. But shoppers beware: this is the time of year when retailers are most likely to accuse customers of stealing merchandise without paying. While theft is a serious problem for Texas retailers, sometimes a customer makes a mistake, and didn’t mean to take an item without paying. Maybe they were ill attentive, or were too busy thinking about other things that needed to get done in time for the holidays. Sometimes stores accuse customers who are, in fact, innocent of the crime of shoplifting. If you are held for questioning or are accused of shoplifting in Texas this holiday season, you’ll need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight your charges.
Under Texas law, instances of shoplifting are treated as the crime of theft. Theft is the unlawful taking of property or merchandise with the intent to deprive the owner of the taken item. Theft isn’t just a matter of snatching an item off the shelf and shoving it in your purse, pocket or backpack. Theft can also be committed if items are “paid” for with bad checks or stolen credit cards.
The punishment for a theft conviction is scaled to the value of the item that was stolen. Items taken with a value less than $1,500 result in a misdemeanor charge, while items taken with a value greater than that result in felony charges.
Shoplifting – Challenging the Charges
When you are facing shoplifting or theft charges, there are a number of defenses or defense strategies that your criminal defense attorney can use in your case. A few of the more common
● Insufficient evidence of the crime. In order to be convicted of theft, evidence must be shown that you
1.) intentionally meant to take the item by hiding or concealing it, and
2.) that you fully intended to deprive the store of that item without paying for it. If either of these intents are missing, you can’t be convicted of theft. If no one saw you do it, there is no video footage, or if when you were searched no item was found in your possession, then there is insufficient evidence that you committed theft.
● Challenge or discredit witness testimony. Perhaps a witness claims to have seen you take an item. Maybe they think they saw you, or someone who looks a lot like you, take the item.
Maybe they are mistaken about what they saw you actually do. Whatever the case may be, your attorney will try to discredit or challenge the witness’s testimony.
● Lack of probable cause. A store clerk or retail security cannot hold you against your will for an unreasonable amount of time, and your person and personal items cannot be searched without probable cause. If you were detained, or illegally searched, your attorney will most certainly use it as part of your defense.
● Item has less value that alleged. When there is sufficient evidence that you stole something, or if you are openly guilty of the crime, then your attorney may see fit to argue the alleged value of the item that was stolen. Since the punishment for theft largely corresponds to the value of the stolen item, your punishment could be reduced if your lawyer successfully argues down the value of the item.
Reaching Out To A Texas Shoplifting Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with shoplifting or any other theft crime, it is important to get help from an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Giles & Giles, our team of professionals have handled a variety of criminal cases and we can help you build a strong defense. Do not hesitate. Call us today.