Shoplifting is defined as deliberately taking items from a store with the intention of not paying for the item. This includes taking an article of clothing and leaving the store, or switching price tags with a lower priced item. Paying for the lower priced item at checkout is still considered shoplifting.
Punishment generally depends on the value of a stolen item. Avoid a permanent, public criminal record by working with the a shoplifting attorney in Houston. Lisa Shapiro Strauss can look at your case to determine if your record can be cleared and help you avoid a long-term impact on your life.
Penalties for Shoplifting
In the most basic form, a shoplifting charge in Houston is a misdemeanor theft charge. This is based on the value of the stolen item. The three levels of misdemeanor charges are:
- Class A: Theft of items valued at less than $2,500, more than $750.
- Class B: Theft of items valued at less than $750, more than $100.
- Class C: Theft of items valued at less than $100.
Shoplifting cases where the value exceeds $2,500 but is less than $30,000 is a state jail felony.
Shoplifting charges can be enhanced under certain conditions:
- Previous Conviction. If you have been convicted of shoplifting in the past, your will increase one level.
- Firearm or Metal Theft. Stealing a gun or a metal like copper or aluminum immediately raises the charge to a felony.
- Thwarting Alarms. Using tools to defeat a theft deterrent device or security alarm will increase the severity of the charge.
Clearing your Record
As part of public record, future employers can see your shoplifting charge, hold it against you, and avoid offering employment. A public shoplifting charge on record could prevent opportunities for current job advancement or leadership positions in the community.
There are two ways to clear your record of a shoplifting charge: deferred adjudication and pretrial diversion. Our shoplifting attorneys in Houston can help you decide on the best option in for your case.
Deferred Adjudication requires that you plead guilty to the shoplifting charge and in return, you are placed on probation for six months to a year. The probationary period often requires drug and alcohol testing or evaluation and required community service. If completed in full, the deferred adjudication charge results in no conviction with the opportunity to file a petition for non-disclosure. This keeps your record sealed to everyone except the government and law enforcement.
Pretrial Diversion is how your shoplifting case can be completely dismissed, granting you a record with no history of the charge. This omission comes with a price. Pretrial diversion must first be applied for and granted by the DA. If accepted, you enter into a one-year contract that demands many more community service hours and a zero tolerance policy for breaking the law.
If you complete the pretrial diversion program, your case will be dismissed. The final step to a clean and clear record involves filing a motion to expunge. This can be done two years after the end of your pretrial diversion. A three-year process to a fully clear record with no history of the charge.
Get Help with Shoplifting Charges in Houston
If you’re facing criminal charges for shoplifting, it’s important to discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced attorney. Lisa Shapiro Strauss is a shoplifting attorney in Houston with more than 20 years of experience. As a former prosecutor, she understands how to examine a case from both sides and offer advice on how to achieve the best possible outcome. Call (713) 449-9922 today to schedule a consultation and discuss your legal options.