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Shoplifting in Odessa, Texas

Shoplifting is taking something from a store without paying for it. This could involve taking a candy bar worth less than $1 from the grocery store or taking a $1,000 computer. In Texas, shoplifting is a theft crime, with the penalties based on the value of the items shoplifted.

Unfortunately, accidentally forgetting to pay for something can result in criminal charges for someone who never intended to steal anything. If you were arrested for shoplifting in Texas, before simply accepting a guilty plea, talk to your experienced Odessa criminal defense lawyer to understand your rights and defenses.

Texas Shoplifting Laws

Under Texas Penal Code 31, theft is unlawfully appropriating property with the intent to deprive the owner of that property. In shoplifting cases, theft generally involves hiding an item in a bag or pocket or walking out of the store without paying for it.

Shoplifting Penalties in Texas

Like other types of theft, the penalties for shoplifting in Texas are based on the value of the property taken or stolen. This is generally based on the retail value, not the value to the individual or the equivalent cost of the item somewhere else. For example, a watch in a jewelry store may be listed at $750. Even if the same watch could be purchased at a store down the street for $100, theft from the jewelry store would be based on the $750 value. 

Value of Property

Criminal Classification

Jail Time

Fines

Less than $100

Class C Misdemeanor

--

Up to $500

$100 or more but less than $750

Class B Misdemeanor

Up to 180 Days

Up to $2,000


$750 or more but less than $2,500

Class A Misdemeanor

Up to 1 Year

Up to $4,000

$2.500 or more but less than $30,000,

State Jail Felony

180 Days to 2 Years

Up to $10,000

Possession of an Instrument to Commit Retail Theft

Many retail stores use security devices to discourage theft. These are often magnetic or electronic tags that set off a retail theft detector alarm when passing through the store doors. Businesses use these items to prevent or detect shoplifting.

Possession of an instrument used to commit retail theft may include:

  • Instruments to remove security tags;
  • Shielding devices to prevent the detection of stolen merchandise; or
  • Deactivating tools.

Among the most common of these devices is simply a metal or foil-lined shopping bag that can block the signal between the security tag and the theft detector. It may appear to be another shopping bag from the same or another store but with a lining of foil or thin metal on the inside.

Organized Retail Theft

Organized retail theft involves more than just shoplifting for one's self. A person commits organized retail theft when he or she intentionally conducts, promotes, or facilitates an activity in which the person receives, possesses, conceals, stores, or sells stolen merchandise.

An example of organized retail theft may include asking some minors to go into a store and take something in exchange for giving the kids money for the items. This may also involve a group of people going into a store with some individuals distracting employees or security while others grab items and leave the store.

Shoplifting often involves employees who are committing theft or helping facilitate the theft. For example, an employee may place some valuable items in the trash, marking the bag in some way to remember it. When the trash is thrown out, the employee or another person may take the bag out of the trash, with the merchandise inside.

Defenses to Shoplifting Charges

Accidentally forgetting to pay for something is technically not shoplifting but the judge or jury may not believe the defendant did not intend to commit theft. Talk to your criminal defense attorney about the best defenses available in your case. Defenses to shoplifting charges may include:

  • The defendant believed the items were paid for;
  • Another person placed the stolen items on the defendant's person;
  • The defendant never left the store or intended to leave the store without paying for the items; or
  • The items were from another store.

Odessa Shoplifting Defense Lawyer

An experienced criminal defense attorney understands how to build a strong defense that gives you the best shot at a favorable outcome, including getting charges reduced or dropped. If you've been accused of criminal theft in Odessa, Texas, the Law Office of E. Jason Leach, PLLC is here to fight for you.

E. Jason Leach is a Board Certified criminal defense attorney that has dedicated his law practice to defending the accused. To set up a free consultation, contact the Law Office of E. Jason Leach today at (432) 552-7000.

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