Being accused of shoplifting is a harrowing experience by anyone’s standards, but what if the storeowner decides to press charges? Whether you are innocent or not, this is going to be an event that can have significant consequences for your future. Although petty theft is a just misdemeanor, a conviction can have many of the same devastating effects on your life that a felony has.
• Employment discrimination
• Social ostracization
• Fines and jail time
Theft is taken very seriously in Texas, and offenders are usually prosecuted vigorously. Without the help of experienced criminal defense lawyers in Houston, like dntriallaw.com, this event will likely leave a black mark on your record. What are the possible defense strategies you can take?
Before the store’s staff can detain you, they need to have probably cause first. They must have actually seen you take the item, and attempt to leave without paying. Occasionally, the staff will violate your rights as well; they cannot humiliate you in front of other patrons, for example. If they acted questionably, this may help you get the charges dropped.
You can also challenge the charge by saying that you never intended to shoplift, and this was simply a mistake. People do forget to pay from time to time, and you might be able to convince the judge that you intended to return it.
This is not always an option, as most stores now have sophisticated CCTV systems within their premises. But if their sole evidence is witness testimony, you may be able to challenge the validity of these claims. A skilled attorney can often prove that the witness is biased or unreliable.
When all else fails, your goal should be to keep this event from appearing on your record. For first offences and smaller thefts, it is usually possible to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor. They may drop some counts, and you might be able to have arrest or conviction expunged. Compared to jail time, getting away with community service or probation is a perfectly fine outcome.