How to Fight Back If You’re Charged with Shoplifting in Texas

By September 19, 2018December 9th, 2020Shoplifting / Retail Theft

How to Fight Back If You're Charged with Shoplifting in Texas

If you are accused of shoplifting in Texas, you might feel like there is no hope to beat your charges. Remember, though, that a charge is not a conviction, and there are all kinds of strategies that an experienced criminal lawyer may be able to use to help you fight back.

In this post, we’re going to go over some of the most common – and successful – strategies to use against shoplifting charges. However, before you can start fighting back, it’s important that you know what you’re up against.

Texas Shoplifting Laws

Fort Worth Retail Theft Charges

The Texas court system punishes shoplifting as theft. Penalties are assigned by property value and a few other factors. Here is a breakdown of the penalties for shoplifting convictions in Texas.

Property value of less than $50

Class C misdemeanor; fine of up to $500

Property value less than $50 plus a prior theft conviction

Class B misdemeanor; fine of up to $2,000 and/or jail sentence of up to 180 days

Property value between $50 and $500

Class B misdemeanor; fine of up to $2,000 and/or jail sentence of up to 180 days

Property value between $500 and $1,500

Class A misdemeanor; fine of up to $4,000 and/or jail sentence of up to one year

Property value between $1,500 and $20,000, or theft of a firearm

State jail felony; fine of up to $10,000 plus jail sentence of 180 days to 2 years

Property value between $20,000 and $100,000

Third degree felony; fine of up to $10,000 plus jail sentence of 2 to 10 years

Property value between $100,000 and $200,000

Second degree felony; fine of up to $10,000 plus jail sentence of 2 to 20 years

Property value over $200,000

First degree felony; fine of up to $10,000 plus jail sentence of 5 to 99 years

Additionally, the retailer who was victimized is permitted to file a civil lawsuit to recoup the retail value of the stolen items plus $1,000 in damages. If a minor is convicted of shoplifting, the minor’s parents or legal guardians can be held liable for up to $5,000 in civil damages.

 

If convicted of shoplifting in Texas, you could face serious penalties like jail time and significant fines. A retailer can also file a civil suit against you, resulting in even more costs. That’s why it’s important to reach out to a skilled Texas criminal lawyer to get help fighting your charges.

Defenses to Texas Shoplifting Charges

Your attorney will base your defense strategy off of the specific details of your case. These examples below are just some of the most common defenses used to get shoplifting charges reduced or dropped.

Lack of intent

If you accidentally walked out of the store with an item in your bag or purse without realizing it, you may not face charges. Also, if you have evidence to support the fact that you believed the item already belonged to you, your charges may be dropped.

Lack of proof

Your charges may be lifted if the prosecution does not have enough evidence to support the charge that you shoplifted.

Mistaken identity

Fort Worth Shoplifting Defenses

Most retail stores have security cameras to deter theft. In some cases, you may have been misidentified on the video recordings or by in-person witnesses.

Duress

You may be able to use this defense if someone forced or coerced you to shoplift through threats of harm against you or your loved ones.

Returned property

This defense can work in the event you attempted to return the item after the shoplifting occurred.

Mental illness

The uncontrollable impulse to steal is called kleptomania. If you have been diagnosed with kleptomania, the judge may issue rehabilitation rather than a jail sentence.

First offense

If this is your first conviction for retail theft, you may be sentenced to restitution and community service rather than jail time.

Retailer-related issues

 

Here are other strategies you can use to fight shoplifting charges.

  1. The store witnesses did not provide consistent or reliable testimony.
  2. The store detained you for an unreasonable amount of time.
  3. You were apprehended by store employees through excessive force.
  4. You were accused of shoplifting even though you placed the item back on the shelf.
  5. The store neglected to issue an apology for false accusations.
  6. The store failed to file charges against you within the statute of limitations.

If you are facing charges, it’s important to consult with a knowledgeable criminal attorney to see which defense will work best in your case.

 

 

About the Author: 

After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.

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