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Theft and Shoplifting Charges in Fort Worth
If you have been accused of any level of theft (misdemeanor or felony), then you should know you are facing serious penalties. The consequences of a theft charges are not only the penalties you can get in court, but also your criminal record can make every part of your life more difficult. That is why James Luster is here to help.
What can a Fort Worth theft lawyer do for you? First, every theft case is unique. Often the evidence against you includes video recordings or witnesses. Other cases are considered circumstantial. Even without a video or eyewitnesses, defending theft cases requires your attorney’s hard work and caring.
As an example, your theft crimes attorney may be able to challenge the way evidence was collected in your case. Based on legal arguments, some incriminating statements may be suppressed (excluded from evidence). Another area of law (Fourth Amendment), allows evidence obtained from illegal searches or seizures to be thrown out of court. If you contact us, we will meet with you and review your case, today.
Like many Texas crimes, a theft charge may range in seriousness of penalty. This range is from a ticket (fine only) to Life in prison. Several factors impact whether a theft is a misdemeanor or felony. A person’s criminal history can increase the seriousness of a theft crime based on an “enhancement.” A special class of alleged victim may also increase the penalty. Of course, the value of items alleged to have been stolen impacts how a theft is charged. Regardless of why your theft charge is a felony, you need a criminal defense attorney working on your case immediately. Time is of the essence in preparing the best defense or working to get the prosecutor to drop or reduce your charges.
Misdemeanor Charges in Fort Worth
We represent people accused of Class A and B Misdemeanor Thefts and felony thefts. The most common misdemeanor theft charge is "Shoplifting.” Misdemeanor theft can result in up to a year in jail and $4,000 fine. Also, even these lower level charges can have a permanent impact on your employability and background checks. If you are charged with misdemeanor theft in Tarrant County, then you need to seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney. If you act fast, your lawyer may be able to get your case dismissed, so you can later get the theft expunged from your record.
In Texas, theft is the most prosecuted crime state court. Tarrant County criminal courts are no exception. If the alleged value of theft is relatively high you can be facing a serious prison sentence. A conviction for theft can make a person practically unemployable in the professional Texas job market. There are many forms of theft in Texas, including shoplifting, theft by check, and others. Any of these theft charges can have serious consequences in court and in your life. Because the consequences for a theft conviction are so great, it is important to find the best Fort Worth theft attorney possible for your theft case.
Possible Defense Issues
Every theft case is unique. The evidence in a theft prosecution may include witnesses or video. However, there are many defenses to theft charges in Texas. Sometimes evidence collection is poor in theft cases or law enforcement may have jumped to the wrong conclusion. The value of stolen property is often an issue in theft cases. Misdemeanor theft or felony charges can often be effectively defended. However, in many cases, we are able to work out an agreement to keep the theft off of your record even if the evidence against you is substantial. You need to speak with an experienced, zealous Fort Worth theft defense lawyer to discuss all of your options.
You don’t want a mistake to leave a mark on your record forever. You need a lawyer for shoplifting charges, and you need one that will put in the time and effort to keep your record clean. If you call our Fort Worth law office, we can meet with you today and start work as your shoplifting lawyer. Together, we will work on a strategy for putting your case behind you.
Typical Texas Shoplifting Case
Most shoplifting cases arise from a department store (e.g. Wal-Mart, Dillard’s). Often a “loss prevention officer” monitors people on surveillance video. Then if someone is suspected of shoplifting the store sends a worker to get closer. Occasionally, a suspected shoplifter will be stopped and questioned before attempting to leave the store. However, most often the “loss prevention” workers wait until the suspected shoplifter walks past all “points of sale.”
When someone is stopped for shoplifting they are usually taken to the security office. There everyone waits on police to arrive. Once police arrive usually an arrest is made and a “criminal trespass” warning is issued. During this process your rights may be violated, and those violations may have a huge impact (possible dismissal) on your case. This is something you need to discuss with your shoplifting lawyer.
If someone is young and has not been in trouble before then they may qualify for a deferred prosecution program. These programs in Tarrant County allow a young shoplifter (first offender) to ultimately get the record expunged. This is extremely important, because a theft charge is considered a “crime of moral turpitude.” So, it can stay with you forever and keep you from getting jobs or getting into school. Unfortunately, there is no “rule” that says a first time offender gets off with a dismissal. Your shoplifting lawyer needs to discuss how you may get into these programs or what you should do if you cannot get into a first offender program.
Can you be charged with shoplifting if you didn’t steal anything?
Yes, you may be charged with shoplifting if you are with a person that steals something. You may have heard the term “accomplice” used on TV. In Texas, when one person is held responsible for the criminal conduct of another person this is usually under what is known as the “law of parties.”
The Law of Parties means Person A is criminally responsible for Person B if Person A encourages or helps Person B to commit a crime. The classic example of the “law of parties” at work is the get-away driver. Person A goes in to steal something while Person B waits with the car running. Both Person A and Person B are criminally responsible.
Do you need a lawyer for a misdemeanor shoplifting charge?
This is a lawyer’s website, so obviously the advice you get here is, “Yes, you need a lawyer.” Honestly, the real question isn’t whether you need to get a lawyer. The real question is, “How fast can you get a lawyer?” Shoplifting cases are theft charges. Theft is very serious. Also, Tarrant County has very strict deadlines related to the programs you can enroll in to get your shoplifting charge dismissed. Do not wait until your court date to get a shoplifting lawyer. Call us (or someone) today. We need to get started on your case.
Shoplifting Laws in Texas
Is shoplifting considered theft?
Yes, in Texas we have most of our “theft” charges bundled into what is called a “consolidated statute.” Texas Penal Code § 31.03 contains most varieties of theft, and shoplifting fit into this law (statute). So, if you get convicted for “shoplifting” then your criminal history is going to say you have a conviction for theft. Shoplifting laws in Texas may be different than other states, so be sure to find resources and attorneys familiar the laws applicable to you and your case.
What can a store do if they suspect a person of shoplifting?
A store can stop and detain a suspect if they have “probable cause” – meaning they have seen the suspect take the merchandise, conceal it, move or modify the item and/or fail to pay for the item before leaving the store. The store may also demand the return of the merchandise, ban the suspected shoplifter from their store with a criminal trespass warning, and file a report with law enforcement to have the case prosecuted. There are also civil penalties for shoplifting. So, you may get a “demand letter” asking you pay the store money for shoplifting, even when the store received all of the property back.
Is shoplifting a misdemeanor or a felony?
Shoplifting laws in Texas say theft can either be a Misdemeanor or Felony depending on the circumstances.
Regardless of whether the charge is a misdemeanor or felony, you need to take your case seriously. Visit with a shoplifting lawyer, today. Finding an attorney for a misdemeanor theft case isn’t usually terribly expensive. Most criminal attorneys will arrange a payment plan with you.