Fort Worth Shoplifting Lawyer
According to Texas law, shoplifting—also commonly referred to as “retail theft”—is a type of theft crime typically characterized as the physical removal of an item from a retail or commercial business. Shoplifting can also take the form of exchanging one price tag for another item’s in the hopes of getting away with paying less.
While shoplifting may not sound like a particularly severe offense, it can carry lasting consequences depending on the severity of the charge. Shoplifting charges can range from a Class C misdemeanor up to a third-degree felony, and because of that should be combated with the help of an experienced Fort Worth shoplifting lawyer.
Types of Shoplifting Convictions
According to Texas Penal Code §31.03, the severity of the sentence for a theft crime—and accordingly, the harshness of resulting punishments—depends on the value of the item or items stolen. If the item(s) stolen amount to less than $100 in value, the convicted individual may have to pay up to a $500 fine as punishment for a Class C misdemeanor.
If the item(s) stolen amount to more than $100 but less than $750 in value, however, the charge will be upgraded to a Class B misdemeanor and the convicted individual may have to pay up to a $2,000 fine, on top of a maximum jail sentence of 180 days. These maximum punishments expand to $4,000 and one year in county jail if the item(s) stolen are worth more than $750 but less than $2,500.
If the item(s) stolen are valued above $2,500, the accused can be charged with a felony, which carries penalties of jail time ranging from 180 days to 99 years and fines of up to $10,000.
Additional Consequences of Shoplifting
In addition to criminal penalties, the Texas Theft Liability Act permits retail and commercial entities to sue a convicted shoplifter for the value of the stolen property, as well as up to $1,000 in additional fines. If the shoplifter is under the age of 18, their parents can be sued for up to $5,000 in damages, plus the price of the item stolen.
Regardless of the severity of the conviction and any resulting fines and sentencing, being found guilty of shoplifting can carry long-term consequences as well. Inability to pass a standard background check because of a criminal record for shoplifting may result in an inability to acquire employment, disqualification from financial aid and scholarship consideration, and difficulty gaining acceptance to a college or university.
Furthermore, if convicted, an individual may be banned by the store from which they shoplifted, causing embarrassment and potential inconvenience. However, Fort Worth shoplifting lawyers could have the knowledge and tools to create an effective legal strategy to seek the best outcome for their clients’ cases.
Contact a Fort Worth Shoplifting Attorney Today
Whether unintentional, a prank, or done so without realizing the severity of the act, shoplifting carries tough penalties. With the right legal representation, you could have a chance to fight the charges levied, avoid the potentially lifelong penalties that come with a shoplifting conviction, and get your life back on track.
If you or a loved one are facing shoplifting charges, reach out to a Fort Worth shoplifting attorney with experience and effective strategies to help the accused and protect your rights. Call today to schedule a consultation and start building your defense.