If you have been accused of retail theft, you are facing a serious criminal charge. In the state of Texas, there are different types of texas retail theft laws you can be charged under, with varying degrees of penalties, ranging from a small fine to significant jail time. It is crucial to understand that regardless of the retail theft crime you are charged with, your reputation and good name may be ruined if you are convicted. For these reasons, it is wise to consult with an experienced San Marcos criminal lawyer as soon as possible.
What Is Retail Theft?
Retail theft, also known as shoplifting, is the intentional, illegal taking of property from a store or retailer without their permission. To be found guilty of this offense, it must be shown that the property was stolen with the intent to deprive the store of the property. In other words, it is not considered shoplifting if it can be shown that you accidentally forgot to pay for an item or if you didn’t know it was in your possession as you left the store. The type of shoplifting crime you are charged with generally will be determined by the monetary value of the items, your criminal history, and whether force was used during the theft.
Types Of Retail Theft Charges And Possible Penalties
Contrary to what some may believe, retail theft is a serious criminal offense not to be taken lightly. Stores that are the victims of shoplifting often aggressively pursue criminal charges and will provide law enforcement with evidence to aid in the prosecutor’s case. Retail theft crimes are either felony or misdemeanor charges.
Misdemeanor charges carry less severe penalties than felony charges. A felony conviction may also be harder to remove from your criminal history than a misdemeanor and can also affect your life in other profound ways. Possible sentences for retail theft range from a $500 fine to over twenty years in prison. The types of retail theft charges you can face in Texas are:
- Value of property stolen under $100 – Up to a $500 fine
- Value of property stolen under $750 – Up to a $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail
- Value of property stolen under $2,500 – Up to a $4,000 fine and 180 days in jail
- Value of property stolen under $30,000 – Up to a $10,000 fine and two years in jail
- Value of property stolen under $150,000 – Up to a $500 fine and ten years in jail
- Value of property stolen under $300,000 – Up to a $500 fine and 20 years in jail
- Value of property stolen over $300,000 – Up to a $10,000 fine and over 20 years in jail
In calculating the value of the stolen property, the prosecutor will add up the value of all stolen items. In other words, if you are accused of stealing a $1,500 TV, a $1,000 computer, and a $100 camera, then the total value of the stolen property will be $2,600, which may result in a felony shoplifting charge.
Defenses To Retail Theft
There are some cases where you may be falsely accused of retail theft, or you have a valid defense. The police and law enforcement don’t always get it right. If your rights were violated before or after you were arrested, then you may be able to get the shoplifting charges dropped. Some common defenses to a retail theft charge may apply in your case.
You Had No Intent To Steal
The law says that to convict you of retail theft, the prosecutor must show that you intentionally deprived the store of the stolen property. This means that you intended to take and keep the item forever. So, if someone puts a pack of cigarettes in your jacket pocket while you are shopping without your knowledge, then you may be able to show you did not intend to steal the item and have the charges dismissed.
You Legally Purchased The Item
Believe it or not, stores sometimes make mistakes and accuse someone of shoplifting when they paid for the item. If you can present a receipt or some other type of evidence that you paid for the item in question, then you may be able to get your retail theft charges dropped.
Stores often rely on video surveillance to ward off shoplifters. But these videos are often grainy and unclear. As a result, you could be falsely accused of shoplifting due to mistaken identity. If you can show it was not you in the video or that you were not in the store at the time the surveillance video was filmed, you may have a valid defense to a shoplifting charge.
San Marcos Retail Theft Lawyers
If you have been accused of retail theft in Texas, you will need an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side. Going up against the prosecutor on a retail theft charge on your own could result in you paying thousands of dollars in fines and even facing jail time.