Shoplifting, Minor Crimes, and Texas Law

Shoplifting doesn’t sound like a serious crime. After all, no one gets hurt. Most items taken aren’t that expensive. A necktie, a book, a dress. No city is immune to such criminal activities, and Austin, TX is no exception. If you need help fighting back against shoplifting charges, contact Austin criminal case lawyer Jackson F. Gorski as soon as possible.

Shoplifters aren’t necessarily poor, needy individuals lacking the means to pay for something as they sneak a pound of butter into a handbag. It’s not uncommon for celebrities or other famous persons to be caught shoplifting, sometimes stealing insignificant items they could easily afford to buy.

The late Charlie’s Angels beauty, Farrah Fawcett, had two convictions for shoplifting. Wynona Ryder that charming young star from the hit film Beetlejuice, got caught stealing from a Beverly Hills shop. Most recently, American basketball players got caught shoplifting in an upscale Chinese boutique.

There are two important things to be gained from some of these facts:

  1. Shoplifting isn’t confined only to the poor who can’t afford to pay for items they want.
  2. Every single item taken from every shop has to be paid for. If the retail customer doesn’t pay for an item, the store will have lost the cost of that item. The store has to be profitable to remain open so it has to adjust its pricing to account for shoplifting loss. That means for the rest of us who pay for our purchases, the price will be higher to offset the loss from shoplifting.

Many people think shoplifting — despite the cases mentioned here — is, after all, an innocuous crime and the cost of a stolen dress is easily offset by all the merchandise a store sells.

Last year, shoplifting cost retailers nearly fifty billion dollars ($50,000,000,000.00). Source: TimeMoney

Few retailers are going to “eat” that sort of loss. Therefore, they’re going to pass it on to their paying customers. With some 27 million active shoplifters wandering our nation’s stores and boutiques, shoplifting is a very serious crime. With one in eleven persons stealing in our shops, we have to consider the effects not only on the offender, and the stores, but shoplifters overburdens our police and our courts. This too, in addition to store losses, cost money. The financial loss means failing to pay taxes that support our way of life.

If you’re caught shoplifting, an otherwise pleasant day will be ruined. Typically, store security will handcuff you and keep you confined in an office, often with glass walls so that others will see you as they pass. They’ll wonder or guess at your situation. Another embarrassing moment is when you’re told that you will no longer be welcome at any of their stores, anyplace in country. If you are caught in another store, they’ll call the police. Then, eventually, perhaps an hour or so later, a real police officer will arrive and question you. You may or may not remain handcuffed during this time. It is not unusual for shoppers to be able to witness this embarrassing time of your day.

Finally, in most cases, you’ll be given a citation, This is referred to as the “cite and release” program. You will have to appear before a judge in a courtroom.

In most cases, you won’t be placed in jail, but on the other hand, when you arrive to face justice in the courtroom, you’ll be at the mercy of the judge.

PENALTIES FOR SHOPLIFTING

In the State of Texas shoplifting is considered a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the stolen property is $500 but less than $1,500. If property taken is valued at more than $1,500, to a felony.

If you fail to appear, perhaps the police will have no time to go looking all over Austin, TX for you, but sooner or later, you’re likely to be questioned for some reason or another and when your failure to appear in court pops up on the computer, you’ll be arrested and taken to jail to await trial. A misdemeanor charge for failure to appear will be added to your original citation. All this means for you is work-time lost, money lost for fines and a good deal of local notoriety.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

No matter what the nature of your offense is, you need a criminal defense lawyer in your corner. Typically, when facing a judge alone, you’re very unlikely to get him to listen.

Your lawyer will stand by your side, be your advocate and speak for you. The judge and prosecution will listen and pay attention.

Every law has loopholes and your lawyer will know and think of things you never dreamed of. Whether you’re guilty or innocent of the charge against you, your lawyer will know exactly what to say to the court. On a charge such as shoplifting, your lawyer will very probably get you off with a slap on the wrist for a first offense.

Another thought to bear in mind: If the item taken has an original price tag of $100 but has been marked down for a special sale to $69.99, you’re still going to be charged for the $100.

The bottom line here is not to steal. Shops and stores can’t afford to lose unpaid merchandise, and for those of us who have a conscience, using or wearing stolen property can bring no joy.

Don’t contemplate shoplifting, but if you’re charged with shoplifting, no matter under what circumstances, you best hope is to call your local Texas attorney.

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