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Shoplifting Cases

The most common theft cases are shoplifting cases. These typically involve a loss-prevention officer, or LPO, and a surveillance tape. Most shoplifting cases are caught on tape and often times the suspect is caught red-handed with the merchandise in their possession.

A common misconception that a lot of theft defendants have is that they claim to have not left the store yet when they were apprehended. As such, they have not committed theft, since they did not leave the store. This is incorrect.

In the State of Texas, once you passed all points of pay, you are deemed to have committed theft. It does not matter if you are still inside the store. Once you pass the point where you can pay for the items, you are committing theft.

In addition to this, the law defines theft as the “intent” to deprive the owner of their property. You could thus be charged with theft the moment you secreted the item into your purse or pocket, even though you did not leave the store or attempt to leave the store yet.

Law Of Parties – What Exactly is this and why should I care?

In many theft cases, persons will be charged with theft, even though they did nothing wrong other than be present with a friend when the theft occurred. They are being charged with theft under Section 7.02 of the Texas penal code, which deals with criminal responsibility for the conduct of another.

In lay terms, if you knew or should have known that someone you were friends/associates with that was present with you was going to commit theft and you did not do anything to distance yourself from this offense (i.e., leave the store immediately before your friend stole anything), encourage the suspect to commit the offense, promote, or assist with the commission (act as a look-out person), or you fail to make a reasonable effort to prevent the commission of the offense, you are just as culpable as the suspect who took the item(s).

These cases are treated just like the person who stole the actual item. You need to be aware of this because you need to know that if you are present with a friend when they are committing, or about to commit a crime, you too, could be charged alongside them for the same offense.

Civil Demand Letters – What is Going On?

A few weeks after you have been arrested for theft, you may notice that you have received a letter in the mail from a law firm based in Florida, or some other state. This is true whether or not the items were recovered by loss prevention or not. The letter will indicate that according to Chapter 134 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code (CPRC), the Texas Theft Liability Act entitles them to demand monetary payment from you (usually $300.00 or so) and if you fail to remit payment, they can sue you in the County in which the alleged theft took place.

The million dollar question you have is, “Am I going to get sued if I do not pay?” The answer to that is NO. They send these letters to anyone and everyone who is charged. I have yet to see anyone actually sued. Keep the letters for your file, but do not EVER pay them anything.

Theft Classification Table:

 

Theft Amount

Category

Punishment Range

Fine Amount

Less than $50.00

Class C Misdemeanor

No Jail Time

Up to $500.00

$50.00 – $499.99

Class B Misdemeanor

Up to 180 days in the County Jail

Up to $2,000.00

$500.00-$1,499.99

Class A Misdemeanor

Up to 1 year in the County Jail

Up to $4,000.00

$1,500-$19,999.99

State Jail Felony

6 months to 2 years in a State Jail Facility

Up to $10,000.00

$20,000.00 – $99,999.99

3rd Degree Felony

2 to 10 years in Prison (TDC)

Up to $10,000.00

$100,000.00 – $199,999.99

2nd Degree Felony

2 to 20 years in Prison (TDC)

Up to $10,000.00

Greater than $200,000.00

1st Degree Felony

5 to LIFE in Prison (TDC)

Up to $10,000.00

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