The following article was provided by Adam Rosenblum and does not necessarily reflect the views of Rand Mintzer, Attorney at Law.
Shoplifting is categorized under the theft crimes in Texas. Generally the punishments are based on how valuable the item or items stolen are. The prosecution and the police officer need to show that you in fact acted with criminal intent. This means that proof beyond a reasonable doubt must be present that you knew the merchandise belonged to the owner of the store and that you took some action to deprive him of its value. The prosecution will use any evidence at its disposal to prove its case including security camera footage, witness accounts and actions like price switching or refund fraud.
Your first defense with respect to any criminal charge is remaining silent when questioned and requesting an attorney to be present. An attorney can help protect your rights and make sure that the police or store owner are not overreaching with respect to your constitutional rights.
Police officers and prosecutors can be aggressive and may use bullying tactics to make sure that the accused is found guilty of the crime. This is even done when the charges are not proper to begin with. Moreover, a conviction of a crime will result in a criminal record and many times the matter cannot be expunged from your record.
It’s important that you remember you are innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor must prove that you indeed had intent to steal. Just because someone places an item under their arm or placed it in their bag does not prove that there was an intention to steal the item. An attorney experienced in theft cases can analyze the case that the prosecutor brings before the judge and can present your case to poke holes in the prosecutor’s arguments and prove to the court that there was no intent to shoplift or steal.
In addition, any time a law enforcement agent begins an investigation to charge someone with a crime there are restrictions as to how far they can take the matter. Sometimes police officers or loss prevention officers overstep their bounds by either spying into an area where they are not allowed to or use excessive force. An attorney will be able to take all the facts in your case and make sure that any procedural flaw is exposed.
There are numerous defenses that can be presented and an attorney can provide you a specific strategy tailored to your case. Each case is unique and presents new facts which an attorney can use to help bring down the charges or beat them altogether. Time is of the essence in shoplifting cases as there are many issues that an attorney needs to review before your court date including, security footage, store incident reports, police reports and other witness accounts. Don’t delay in speaking with a Texas criminal defense attorney if you were charged with shoplifting.