Product loss due to theft costs Houston business owners millions each holiday season. To reduce their risks, they hire extra security staff and install additional surveillance technology. Because of that, the odds of being accused and arrested for shoplifting in Houston increase greatly during the holidays.
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Whether you’re innocent or guilty, being arrested and charged with shoplifting during the holidays is a serious matter. In addition to the possible jail time and fines, being convicted of shoplifting in Houston can have a serious impact on your life. Having a Houston shoplifting rap on your record could make it difficult to get a job, find housing or attend school.
Penalties for Shoplifting in Houston
In Texas, shoplifting is considered to be theft — unlawfully appropriating property with intent to deprive the owner of that property. The penalties you face are related to the value of the property that was stolen. The more the merchandise was worth, the more severe the charges and penalties will be:
- Property valued at less than $100: Class C misdemeanor. If convicted, you can be fined up to $500. (NOTE: You could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor if you have a previous conviction for shoplifting.)
- Property valued at more than $100 but less than $750: Class B misdemeanor. If convicted, you could receive a fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail time.
- Property valued at $750 or more but less than $2,500: Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, you could receive a fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail time.
- Property valued at $2,500 or more but less than $30,000: State jail time felony. If convicted, you could receive a fine of up to $10,000 and between 180 days and two years in jail time.
- Property valued at $30,000 or more but less than $150,000: Third degree felony. If convicted you could receive a fine of up to $10,000 and between 2 and 10 years in jail time.
- Property valued at $150,000 or more but less than $300,000: Second degree felony. If convicted, you could receive a fine of up to $10,000 and between 2 and 20 years in jail time.
- Property valued at more than $300,000: First degree felony. If convicted, you could receive a fine of up to $10,000 and between 5 and 99 years’ imprisonment.
Houston Shoplifting Legal Defenses
If you’ve been arrested and charged with shoplifting in Houston, it’s important to get legal representation as soon as possible. Just because you’ve been charged with shoplifting in Houston doesn’t mean you’ll be found guilty.
There are many different legal defenses that can be applied in a shoplifting case:
- The defendant’s civil rights were violated during the arrest.
- The “stolen” item legally belonged to the defendant.
- The defendant thought the item was a free sample.
- The defendant pocketed the item with the intent to shoplift, but abandoned it before leaving the premises.
- Mistaken identity – somebody else actually committed the crime.
Depending on the circumstances, an experienced Houston shoplilfting attorney could get the charges against you reduced or even dismissed.
Answers to Your Questions About Shoplifting in Houston
Is it Considered Shoplifting if You Don’t Leave the Store?
If an individual puts an item in a backpack or conceals it in a way that makes it apparent the item was hidden, a retailer can claim the individual intended to steal the item.
Security guards and employees will often wait for a suspected shoplifter to leave the store before approaching them. This is because it is easier to prove theft if the individual leaves, but it is not necessary for the individual to leave in order to prove intent to shoplift.
Can Social Media Be Used Against You in Shoplifting Cases?
Yes, information shared on social media does not have privacy rights, so any post you make on social media can be used against you. Courts have ruled that even “private” posts are considered public activity. A number of convictions have occurred in part because defendants have made mistakes on social media, such as posting photos of stolen goods, bragging about crimes committed, and providing details of conversations with their attorneys.
If possible, Lisa Shapiro Strauss recommends staying away from social media altogether to reduce the risk of saying or posting something you will regret later.
Can Shoplifting Technology Falsely Accuse Someone of Stealing?
There is no doubt that technology used in shoplifting can make mistakes that result in unfair arrests. A few examples are:
– The facial recognition software used by some businesses uses certain facial characteristics that can be easily mistaken for those of another person, such as head shape, jaw line, and ear shape.
– Chips embedded in valuable items are tracked using RFID technology, but sometimes employees forget to remove the chips after a purchase.
–Video Analytic Software is a type of software that is used to determine whether suspicious activity is taking place, but it could mistake something as simple as reaching into a purse for shoplifting.
Lisa Shapiro Strauss Houston Shoplifting Defense Attorney
The only thing worse than being arrested with shoplifting during the holiday season is being found guilty of the crime and being ordered to pay hefty fines or sentenced to jail.
If you’ve been charged with shoplifting in Houston, leading criminal defense attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss can help. A former county DA turned Houston criminal defense lawyer, Lisa Shapiro Strauss’ vast legal knowledge and skills could help you avoid jail time, hefty fines or having a shoplifting conviction on your permanent record. Don’t wait to contact the law offices of Lisa Shapiro Strauss to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your Houston shoplifting case.