During the off-season, football teams cut players for a variety of reasons: they get injured; they’re not fast enough; they can’t catch the ball; they miss plays. The list goes on and on.
All of those reasons, though, have to deal with football. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for Lucky Whitehead, a third-year wide receiver recently released from the Dallas Cowboys.
So why did they cut him? Because Whitehead apparently had a warrant out for his arrest due to missing a court appearance for a shoplifting charge. After discovering this, the Dallas Cowboys decided to part ways with him.
However, the next day, the police announced that they weren’t looking for Whitehead after all, and the whole situation had been a case of mistaken identity. A man was arrested for shoplifting in Woodbridge, Virginia, and he gave police officers Whitehead’s name and social security number. Although the man didn’t have ID, he looked similar enough to Whitehead that the police didn’t press the issue.
The Virginia police department is now looking for the man who actually shoplifted, and they’ve apologized to Whitehead… but it looks like he’s still out of a job with the Cowboys.
While shoplifting is typically seen as a minor crime, here in Texas, the penalties are severe. More severe, even, than getting cut from a football team. So let’s explore what Texas’ shoplifting laws and penalties currently are.
Texas Shoplifting Laws
When you think of shoplifting, you probably think of swiping something from a store, shoving it into your pocket or bag, and then walking out. That’s generally what shoplifting is, but according to the Texas penal code, shoplifting is just another way to say theft.
There are multiple types of theft, and shoplifting is just one of the many theft offenses that have been consolidated under a single theft umbrella.
What is theft, legally speaking? Our statutes say that a person commits theft if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of that property.
What makes it unlawful? Either you don’t have the owner’s consent or you take property you know has already been stolen.
So taking a pair of jeans from a department store without paying is theft. It is also theft to switch price tags on an item so you don’t have to pay full price, or to write a bad check for purchases.
Texas Shoplifting Penalties
You can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony offense depending on the value of the stolen property, and consequences may include both jail time and fines.
- If the value of the property is less than $50, you can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor punishable by fines up to $500.
- If the value of the property is $50-$500, you can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and fines up to $2,000.
- If the value of the property is $500-$1,500, you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and fines up to $4,000.
- If the value of the property is $1,500-$20,000, you can be charged with a state jail felony punishable by 180 days to 2 years in a state penitentiary and fines up to $10,000.
- If the value of the property is $20,000-$100,000, you can be charged with a third degree felony punishable by 2-10 years in jail and fines up to $10,000.
- If the value of the property is $100,000-$200,000, you can be charged with a second degree felony punishable by 2-20 years in jail and fines up to $10,000.
- If the value of the property is more than $200,000, you can be charged with a first degree felony punishable by 5-99 years in jail and fines up to $10,000.
As you can see, the more valuable the property, the more severe the penalty.
Along with these criminal penalties, it’s also important to note that adult shoplifters can be sued by the retailers they stole from for actual damages, plus additional damages up to $1,000.
If a minor child shoplifts, the parents or guardians could potentially be sued for actual damages up to $5,000.
Fighting Shoplifting Charges in Texas
Our state takes shoplifting and all theft seriously. For that reason, it’s imperative to reach out to an experienced Texas theft attorney with proven results if you’ve been caught shoplifting. A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to fight for your rights to get your charges reduced, dismissed, or dropped altogether to avoid prosecution. Don’t wait around for your charges to disappear, fight back today.
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.