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Shoplifting is stealing something from a store. The legal term for Shoplifting is Petty Theft. You shoplift if you intend to take something that doesn't belong to you from a store without paying for it, and you do so, or try to. Shoplifting also includes switching labels on merchandise in order to get a better price for your purchases. Shoplifting is considered a serious crime, depending on the value of the property stolen and or the criminal record of the defendant.

In most cases, first offenses such as shoplifting are punishable by a small fine and 1 year of informal probation. In some cases, a first offense of shoplifting can be reduced to an infraction thus eliminating any criminal record. A second theft or shoplifting offense is a much more serious matter because of the consequences.

Some Facts About Shoplifting:

  • Shoplifting is America's #1 property crime
  • 1 in 11 people shoplift.
  • 25% of these shoplifters are children.
  • Shoplifters steal over $20 billion worth of goods from retailers each year.
  • Shoplifters are vigorously prosecuted in Texas.

A store owner or someone who works for the owner generally has the right to detain a person they suspect of shoplifting in order to investigate the possible crime. This investigation must take place in a reasonable amount of time. Generally, the owner or employee can't look inside the person's bag without permission, unless they actually saw the person steal something, or the item is in plain view.

If this is not the case, the store would either have to let the person go or call the police to conduct any further investigation. The owner or employee can't loudly accuse the suspect in front of other customers and must not be rude or offensive during questioning.

When a family member is arrested for shoplifting, it can be a humiliating experience for the whole family.  When the shoplifter is a child, the merchant may seek civil remedies from the parent or guardian of the child in lieu of criminal prosecution. Whether it’s a teenager or an older family member we find that our clients usually have two main objectives:

  • Keep this out of public view
  • Keep the arrested person out of jail

When those are the client’s objectives, they are our objectives. Stealing – when it is petty theft or shoplifting – is most often a one-time crime. It may be a juvenile crime that started as a fun prank and ended with an arrest. Most juveniles don’t want to go through that again. Adults, too, might try shoplifting or petty theft because of a momentary temptation. The consequences when arrested can go far beyond that moment, however.

If this is your second arrest for shoplifting and if your objectives remain the same – keep this out of public view and keep me out of jail – our experience with these cases and our extensive knowledge of alternative sentencing options will help meet those objectives. A prosecutor and a judge are going to want a stiffer sentence to make sure the arrested person knows the seriousness of the charges.

Alternative sentencing options can include one or a combination of the following:

  • Probation
  • Community Service
  • Home Detention
  • “Pay Jail” (an alternative jail)
  • Work Release
  • Weekend Jail

We will make sure you understand the charges against you and your options. If you decide to fight the charges, we will make sure you have the representation you need and an honest evaluation of the probable outcome of a trial.

When you come to The Sheena Law Firm, we will review the charges, explain the law, and discuss the available options. We will represent the arrested person throughout the process, helping that person understand the seriousness of the situation and working with the prosecutors and the court to minimize any sentence. Call us today to discuss your case.

Danny M. Sheena, P.E.

The Sheena Law Firm
2500 West Loop South, Suite 518
Houston, Texas 77027
(713) 224-6508 - Office
(713) 225-1560 - Fax

Email: [email protected]


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