Big retailers like Wal-Mart lose millions of dollars to theft every year, and as a result, they have well-trained loss prevention officers whose job it is to catch shoplifters. Although exact figures aren’t available, a large amount of shoplifting cases filed in the Greater Houston area are for thefts that are alleged to have occurred at Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart spends enormous sums of money on surveillance of their stores and their loss prevention officers are trained to detect suspicious behavior, including customers concealing merchandise or switching tags on merchandise. Due to the extensive surveillance at the Wal-Mart stores, if you attempt to steal merchandise, it is very likely that you will be caught and detained by a Wal-Mart loss prevention officer or sometimes a police officer working an extra shift at Wal-Mart.
If you are caught shoplifting, you will be taken to a room and sometimes asked to give a statement. It is never a good idea to speak to loss prevention officers or sign any type of statement. You will not talk your way out of a shoplifting arrest, even by offering to pay for the merchandise.
Next, a police officer will respond to collect information about the alleged shoplifting incident and possibly take you to jail. The severity of the charge is determined by the amount you allegedly attempted to steal. Shoplifting is considered to be theft under Texas law. Typically, if the amount if $100 or less, you would be charged with Class “C” misdemeanor theft and given a court date in municipal court. However, if the amount is over $100, you will be charged with Class “B” misdemeanor theft, and it is more likely that you will be arrested and taken to jail.
In Houston, it is likely that you will be given a PR bond and bond out of jail, within 24 hours of your arrest on a first-time shoplifting case. In many other cities, like Conroe or Sugarland, you will likely have to pay a small bond before being released on a shoplifting case.
Once you go to court, your case will be treated the same as any other shoplifting case. Due to the stigma of being labeled a thief, it is critical to do everything possible to get the case dismissed, as a shoplifting conviction could follow you around for the rest of your life and make it difficult to find work and even housing. A shoplifting attorney should have a clear strategy to defend your case, beginning with obtaining the evidence and attacking every part of the case against you.
Although being arrested for shoplifting is a terrible experience, the good news is that it many shoplifting cases are eventually dismissed. Some shoplifting cases are dismissed due to insufficient or missing evidence, while other cases are dismissed because a defendant has no other criminal history and a prosecutor agrees that the defendant deserves a second chance to keep his or her record clean.
Attorney Jose Ceja is a former prosecutor who regularly defends shoplifting cases throughout the Greater Houston area. If you have been arrested for shoplifting, call Ceja Law Firm today to speak to Mr. Ceja about the options available to you to protect your freedom and your reputation against a shoplifting conviction.