Parker County Shoplifting Lawyer
Being arrested for shoplifting can be extremely embarrassing—and being convicted, doubly so. On top of long-term consequences like a criminal record and lost work and housing opportunities, shoplifters may be punished in Texas with fines, civil penalties, and even jail time. To build a strong defense after being charged with shoplifting, it may be essential that you speak to a Parker County shoplifting lawyer as soon as possible. A dedicated theft attorney could fight for your rights and prepare evidence and defenses that give you the best chance of achieving a positive outcome.
Shoplifting Defined in Parker County
Shoplifting is defined as a form of theft in Parker County. Theft is the unlawful stealing of property without the owner’s consent and with the intent to deprive the owner of that property. When most people think of shoplifting, they think of stealing something from a store by putting an item in their pocket or bag and walking out without paying for it. However, other scenarios—like altering price tags in order to pay a lower price or writing a bad check to pay for items—can also be considered shoplifting.
In some cases, a shoplifting charge could become complicated by an assault charge or a drug possession charge. An assault could occur if a person accused of shoplifting hits a store employee in an attempt to leave the store, and a drug possession charge could happen if police officers find drugs on the accused at the time of the arrest.
Shoplifting Penalties in Parker County
Since it is classified and charged just like any other form of theft, shoplifting has many different classifications in Texas depending on the value of the items allegedly taken. When the items in question have a lower value and the accused person has no prior convictions, the penalties may be less severe. As the value of the items increases, so do the penalties, particularly when the accused has past convictions.
Theft of property with a value less than $100 is considered a Class C misdemeanor, the least serious of all shoplifting charges. The penalty, if convicted, is a fine up to $500. Alternatively, the charge may be upgraded to a Class B misdemeanor punishable by 180 days in jail, a $2000 fine, or both if the defendant has prior convictions. However, a seasoned Parker County shoplifting lawyer could help argue against an upgraded charge.
Classifications of charges and subsequent punishments for shoplifting increase proportionately with the value of the allegedly stolen property. Beyond the most basic Class C misdemeanor variant, shoplifting can be charged as anything from a Class B misdemeanor for theft of property valued between $100 and $750 to a first-degree felony for theft of property valued at over $300,000. Likewise, punishments may range from a fine of $2,000 to $10,000, a minimum imprisonment period of up to five years, and a maximum of 180 days to life in prison.
It is clear that the higher the value of a property and the more convictions a person has, the more severe penalties they may be sentenced to. However, even those accused of shoplifting considered to be a misdemeanor still need the help of a Parker County shoplifting attorney who can help them contest their charges so one incident does not follow them for the rest of their lives.
Civil Liability in Shoplifting Cases
While those convicted of shoplifting in Parker County are likely to face criminal consequences, they could also face civil liability as well. Those who steal from a retailer or other merchant may have a lawsuit filed against them for the value of the property stolen, as well as additional damages of up to $1,000.
These lawsuits can be filed against adults only. However, if a minor shoplifts, their parents or guardian may have a lawsuit filed against them. In these cases, parents can be sued for the actual value of the property stolen, up to a maximum of $5,000.
Pre-trial Diversion Programs in Parker County
Individuals accused of shoplifting in Parker County may be eligible for a pre-trial diversion program. These programs allow individuals to be placed on probation for a certain period of time, complete a community service program, undergo counseling, and pay restitution to the person or business they stole from without facing criminal charges outright.
After successfully completing these court-mandated requirements, the accused party can then have all criminal charges dropped. It is important to understand, however, that only those accused of first-time and minor crimes may be eligible to be placed in a pre-trial diversion program, so it may be wise to discuss this option with a shoplifting lawyer in Parker County before committing to pursuing it.
Call a Parker County Shoplifting Attorney for Professional Legal Assistance
Our legal team understands that even the least serious shoplifting charges can result in a permanent mark on your criminal record. It is for this reason that you should strongly consider speaking to a Parker County shoplifting lawyer if you are ever charged with shoplifting, so you could have a knowledgeable ally by your side to help contest your charges and stand up for your rights.