Houston Criminal Defense Attorney

Defending against shoplifting charges in Texas

An arrest on shoplifting charges can be a humiliating experience - especially if you don't believe you did anything wrong. Shoplifting in Texas falls within the general offense of theft under the Texas Penal Code, and a conviction can carry serious consequences.

The nature of the charges filed for shoplifting in Texas depends on the value of the allegedly stolen property. For items worth less than $50, the charge will be a Class C misdemeanor. The offense is a Class B misdemeanor if the value of the property is $50 or more, but less than $500, or if the value is under $50 and the individual has a prior conviction for theft. The charges increase in severity as the value increases, with felony charges starting at $1,500 or more.

The charges can also be increased to the next highest level if the individual deactivated a store theft alarm or used a shielding device, such as a shopping bag lined with foil or metal, to prevent detection by a theft alarm. Charges can also be increased if the individual used any device to remove a store security tag from an item.

In shoplifting cases, prosecutors often rely on the testimony of store employees who claim to have witnessed the alleged theft. In some cases, however, overzealous store employees can misinterpret innocent behavior. On cross-examination defense counsel can sometimes demonstrate the store employees did not have a clear view of what occurred.

In other shoplifting cases, an individual may accidentally leave a store without paying for an item. In that situation, the necessary element of criminal intent is missing and the charges should be dismissed.

Source: Tex. Penal Code § 31.01-.03, accessed Dec. 27, 2014