Houston Shoplifting Defense Lawyer

Texas law enforcement takes shoplifting seriously – even if the offender is a minor with an otherwise clean record. One moment of bad judgment or giving in to peer pressure can mean a criminal conviction, fines, and community service hours. Even accidental shoplifting (unintentionally forgetting to pay for merchandise or services) or retail theft can have legal consequences. If you or someone you know recently received a shoplifting charge in Houston, you need a competent defense attorney. You need David A. Breston, Attorney at Law.

Houston Shoplifting Laws and Penalties

Shoplifting by taking an item out of the store, or even changing the price on a product to a lower amount, is punishable with fines and even jail time, depending on the value of the item. The store owners also have the right to ban the offender for a certain period of time or for life. In the juvenile court system, those charged with theft may face fines, restitution, mandatory counseling, probation, or detention. Here are the potential sentences for shoplifting in Texas:

  • Value of item less than $50: Class C misdemeanor. Punishable with a $500 fine.
  • Value of item $50 to $499: Class B misdemeanor. Punishable with up to $2,000 in fines and 180 days in jail.
  • Value of item $500 to $1,499: Class A misdemeanor. Punishable with up to $4,000 in fines and one year in jail.
  • Value of item $1,500 to $19,999: Felony. Punishable with up to $10,000 in fines and two years in jail.

The juvenile court system has more sentencing options for shoplifting. Depending on the value of the item, the nature of the crime, and other elements, the courts could order the juvenile to pay a fine, pay damages to victims, attend counseling for an underlying issue (i.e., drug and alcohol counseling, anger management, behavioral counseling), or be placed on probation. A minor on probation must obey specific rules, such as staying away from certain places and people. Breaking probation can lead to additional sentencing.

Why Hire a Shoplifting Defense Attorney?

A skilled defense lawyer can strive to minimize charges through pre-trial negotiations, helping to reduce the impact of the situation on the teen or adult. We’ve represented dozens of shoplifting and petty theft cases in juvenile and adult courts in Houston. We know how to help clients maximize the odds of a positive resolution. It is especially important to retain a competent attorney if your teen is on trial for shoplifting. The juvenile system aims to educate child criminals more than punish them, but your child could still face serious consequences.

Juvenile detention is one such consequence for petty theft in Texas. The judge may order the minor to work in a detention program or youth service program. In some cases, the juvenile may be required to go to a full-time juvenile detention center or home. The courts consider many factors when deciding whether this sentence is appropriate for the crime. Juveniles have the same legal rights as adults – including the right to an attorney. Retaining experienced, aggressive defense attorneys is the best way to protect your child’s rights in a shoplifting situation.

Receiving a shoplifting charge in Texas is not the same as a criminal conviction. There is still time to retain an attorney, lower the charges, and minimize the punishment. The right attorney will help you understand your rights as a juvenile or a parent, and take the necessary steps to improve your situation as much as possible. David Breston has decades of defense experience in Houston, and wants to hear about your case. Contact us to schedule a free, confidential case evaluation.

To learn more, please visit our Theft Crime Information Center