Shoplifting is often thought of as a person taking merchandise and leaving the store with it. However, shoplifting refers to various situations involving the taking of property without an owner’s consent. Shoplifting without leaving the store is possible in Texas and depends on the nature of the incident.
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Defining ‘Shoplifting’ in Texas
Shoplifting is a theft crime under Texas law. When someone intends to permanently remove property from the rightful owner’s possession without permission, it is considered theft.
When merchandise is stolen from a business, it is considered retail theft, or shoplifting. Penalties can be anything from a misdemeanor to a felony charge depending on the value of the items stolen. A shoplifting conviction is a misdemeanor if the value of the property stolen is under $1,500. Stolen property valued above $1,500 can result in a felony conviction.
Shoplifting Without Leaving the Store
A person can be charged and convicted of shoplifting even if they did not leave the store. For example, if a person puts merchandise in a backpack or purposefully conceals it, the retailer can make a case that the person intended to steal the item.
Defending Against an In-Store Shoplifting Charge
Most employees or security workers in a retail environment wait for a suspected shoplifter to leave the store with the stolen merchandise before apprehending them. It is easier to prove the individual was shoplifting if they leave the store with unpaid merchandise.
On the other hand, proving a person intended to steal merchandise that they did not leave the store with can be difficult. Security personnel are trained to detect shoplifters. But they do make mistakes and may misinterpret a shopper’s actions to be shoplifting when no shoplifting was intended.
The Value of an Attorney
Any time you have been apprehended for or accused of shoplifting, it is important to have representation by a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. Whether or not you left a store with unpaid merchandise, you may be able to reduce charges, fines and penalties with the help of a lawyer.
Even if you are innocent, you should have representation from an attorney. If a store believes you stole merchandise or intended to steal merchandise, it is difficult to prove your innocence without the help of a legal professional who has experience with these cases.
Never take a chance with a conviction on your record. Get legal help to keep your record as clean and safe as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions About Shoplifting in Houston
The short answer is yes, information shared on social networks does not have privacy rights, so virtually any post you make on social media can be used against you. In court cases, it has been held that even “private” posts are regarded as public activity. Many convictions have occurred as the result of errors made by defendants on social media, including posing with stolen goods, bragging about crimes committed, and posting details of conversations with their attorney in violation of attorney-client privilege
For the best results, Lisa Shapiro Strauss recommends staying off social media altogether, if possible, to reduce the chance of saying or posting something you will regret later.
The technology used in shoplifting can certainly make mistakes that can result in unfair arrests. Here are some of the most common problems:
– Facial Recognition software uses certain facial characteristics- like head shape, jaw line, and ear shape- that can easily be mistaken from person to person.
– Trackable chips are inserted into valuable items that use RFID technology, but sometimes employees forget to take them out after a purchase.
– Video Analytic Software is a type of software that works to determine if suspicious activity is occurring, but it can sometimes misinterpret something as simple as reaching into a purse as shoplifting.
Security guards aren’t bound by the same laws as police officers, so they don’t have to do things like read you your rights, or even tell you the truth. But, that doesn’t mean they can detain you without probable cause. If they do detain you, the best thing to do is to politely cooperate, but do not make any statements, sign any documents, or consent to any searches until you speak with a lawyer.
Talk to an Experienced Shoplifting Attorney
With over 20 years of experience in criminal defense, Lisa Shapiro Strauss has the experience and knowledge to aggressively defend her clients and their rights. As a former prosecutor, she knows how to represent each of her clients in the best way possible. Call 713-449-9922 today or fill out the contact form on our website for a free consultation in your shoplifting case.