Weatherford Shoplifting Lawyer
The Texas Penal Code contains some of the simplest theft laws in the country. All offenses that involve theft, including shoplifting, are consolidated under a single statute. While this does make shoplifting charges more straightforward, since this particular crime is not a separately named offense as it is in many other jurisdictions, the potential penalties for any theft offense are harsh. Depending on the situation, an alleged theft in Texas can be prosecuted as a simple misdemeanor or as a serious felony. The severity of the charge is primarily determined by the value of the items allegedly taken, so it is usually critical for defendants to specifically determine the value associated with their case in order to form an effective defense. Another important step to take may be to hire a Weatherford shoplifting lawyer. A dedicated criminal defense attorney from our firm could work to protect your rights and argue against allegations of shoplifting on your behalf.
Which Laws Concern Shoplifting?
The Texas Penal Code has consolidated all theft-related offenses into a single statute. According to Texas Penal Code §31.03, a theft is any action taken by a defendant with the intent to deprive the owner of that property. Importantly, the law is not concerned with how the theft happened, only that the theft did take place.
Shoplifting is a specific type of theft that occurs when an alleged shoplifter takes possession of property that is still owned by a store with the intent to steal it., allegations of shoplifting can be very nuanced. In fact, police arrest many defendants in shoplifting cases even though the defendant never removed the items from the store.
Prosecutors in these cases often rely upon circumstantial evidence to prove their claims. This can include:
- A defendant placing an item under a coat, in their pants, or otherwise concealed on their body
- Removing or swapping price tags
- Placing items on an improper shelf or bin
- Taking unpurchased merchandize into a restroom
A Weatherford shoplifting attorney could work to refute allegations that a defendant committed shoplifting when a prosecutor’s case relies on this type of evidence.
The Consequences of a Shoplifting Conviction
Charges involving shoplifting, or any type of theft, carry the widest range of available penalties for conviction in Texas. In fact, Texas Penal Code §31.03(e) creates no fewer than seven levels of theft convictions. The simplest way to understand these levels is that the higher the value of the items allegedly taken the harsher the potential penalty.
For example, the theft of an item valued at less than $100 is a class C misdemeanor. This cannot result in jail time but can require a convicted defendant to pay a fine of up to $500. Naturally, as the value of the item grows, so too do the potential penalties. Thefts of any value above $2,500 are felonies that can result in a significant prison sentence.
The other factor that determines the severity of a shoplifting charge is the type of item allegedly taken. For example, firearms, items made of industrial metals such as aluminum or copper, and controlled medications may all result in greater criminal penalties if shoplifted. A shoplifting lawyer in Weatherford could help individual defendants examine the facts behind their alleged theft and determine the potential penalties for a conviction in their situation.
Speak with a Weatherford Shoplifting Attorney Today
Many people who are facing accusations of shoplifting are frightened and confused. They may not understand how they are being charged with theft when they never even took an item from a store. In reality, all police need to make an arrest is probable cause to believe you concealed an item with the intent to steal it.
Constructing an effective defense in a shoplifting case can involve talking to witnesses, reviewing store incident reports, and examining security footage. A Weatherford shoplifting lawyer could take the lead in all these respects to protect your future. Get in touch with an attorney today so they could start developing a strategy designed to help you and putting that strategy into effect.