Fort Worth Shoplifting Lawyer

Shoplifting may be one of the most common crimes in Fort Worth. Although it seems mostly harmless, this is not just a minor offense. Under certain circumstances, it can be treated as a felony offense. Therefore, if you are facing shoplifting charges, you may want to get help from a skilled attorney.

A knowledgeable Fort Worth shoplifting lawyer could explain the charges and your options for fighting them. In addition, a skilled theft lawyer who understands how courts in Fort Worth prosecute shoplifting cases could also help you protect your rights to give you the best chance at a positive outcome.

How the Law Treats Shoplifting

State laws treat shoplifting the same as basic theft. Theft occurs any time someone takes property belonging to another without the owner’s consent and with the intent to deprive the owner of that property.

In addition, Texas Pen. Code §31.15 prohibits the manufacture, distribution, or possession of shielding and deactivation devices used to assist in shoplifting. Those found in possession of these devices may face charges for a Class A misdemeanor.

Penalties for Fort Worth Offenses

Under state law, the penalties for shoplifting vary depending on the value of the property and the existence of any prior convictions for similar offenses. The classification of each level of offense is spelled out in Texas Penal Code §31.03 and penalties for each classification are explained in Texas Pen. Code §§12.21-23 and 12.32-35.

Shoplifting as a Misdemeanor

For a first-time offender, if the value of the property involved is less than $100, the crime is treated as a Class C misdemeanor. Those with prior convictions may have the same offense treated as a Class B misdemeanor.

When the value of the property is between $100 and $750, the offense becomes a Class B misdemeanor. Finally, if the property taken is worth more than $750 but less than $2,500, the crime may be charged as a Class A misdemeanor or a felony.

Shoplifting as a Felony

If an individual with two or more theft convictions shoplifts property worth more than $750, the offense can be treated as a state jail felony. Shoplifting is also classified as a state jail felony even without prior convictions if the property at issue is worth between $2,500 and $30,000. When the property involved is valued at more than $30,000, the offense may be classified as a first, second or third-degree felony.

Sentences for Different Classifications

Each classification carries a different potential maximum fine and, in most cases, a term of imprisonment. The court may impose both a fine and a jail sentence depending on the circumstances. The maximum penalties for shoplifting offenses include up to:

  • Class C misdemeanor — $500 fine
  • Class B misdemeanor — six months in jail and a fine of $2,000
  • Class A misdemeanor — one year in jail and a fine of $4,000
  • State jail felony — two years in jail and a fine of $10,000
  • Third degree felony — ten years in jail and a fine of $10,000

With felony offenses, a minimum term of imprisonment may also apply.

Work with a Fort Worth Shoplifting Attorney

In addition to the criminal penalties, a conviction for shoplifting creates a criminal record that can be damaging to your reputation. Criminal records are visible to anyone with internet access, which can make it difficult to obtain housing and employment.

Therefore, it is wise to work with an experienced Fort Worth shoplifting lawyer to fight the charges and protect your record. To learn how an attorney could help in your case, call for a free consultation.