What happens if you get caught shoplifting at Home Depot in Houston?

Home Depot is one of the Houston area’s largest retailers and they are known to take the prevention and enforcement of shoplifting offenses seriously. Due to the high value of many items that are sold at the Home Depot, the retailer is a target for organized theft. 

Earlier this year, for example, two men were arrested after working together to steal almost $2000 worth of merchandise from a Houston Home Depot. One reason that Home Depot faces an especially bad shoplifting problem is that many of the items sold at Home Depot – unlike the merchandise at grocery stores, for example – can be sold for good profit. For example, this Houston man was arrested and charged with stealing $30,000 worth of merchandise at Home Depot which he would resell to a pawn shop. 

How is shoplifting from Home Depot charged?

In Texas, shoplifting is considered to be a form of theft. The severity of a theft charge (and the potential punishment), is based on the value of the items allegedly stolen. Under Texas law, it isn’t necessary to actually leave a store with items to be charged with theft. For example, you can be charged with theft for simply acting with the “intent to deprive,” for example, by switching the tags on items in a store. Texas punishes shoplifting/theft as follows:

  • Shoplifting is considered a Class C Misdemeanor if the value of the property stolen is worth $100 or less and is punishable by a fine up to $500. In Houston, Class C misdemeanors are heard in municipal courts. In Houston, any shoplifting charge higher than a Class C will be heard at a county or district court at 1201 Franklin St. 
  • Shoplifting is considered a Class B Misdemeanor if the value of the property stolen is more than $100 but less than $750 and is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $2,000.
  • Shoplifting is considered a Class A Misdemeanor if the value of the property stolen is $750 or more but less than $2,500 and is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $4,000.
  • Shoplifting is considered a State Jail Felony if the value of the property stolen is $2,500 or more but less than $30,000 and is punishable by 180 days to two years in state jail and/or a fine up to $10,000.

What can I expect after a shoplifting arrest at Home Depot?

If you are accused of shoplifting at Home Depot, you will likely be detained at the store by loss prevention personnel until the police arrive. If the police determine that they have enough evidence to charge you with theft, whether or not you are arrested and go to jail will depend on the value of the items that you allegedly stole. If the value of the items is under $100 you will likely be cited and released with a court date at a municipal court. 

If the value is $100 or more, then you will usually be arrested and taken to downtown Houston, where you will be processed and see a judge. If you are charged with misdemeanor theft, and have no criminal history, then it is likely that you will receive a free bond (known as a PR) bond. In Houston, you will typically have a court date within a week or so after a shoplifting charge. 

A shoplifting charge will typically take several months to resolve in Houston and you should not be anxious about your first court date. The first court date is usually an opportunity for the judge to review your bond conditions, which are the rules that you must follow while your case is decided. In a shoplifting case, bond conditions are typically not overly restrictive and usually include not returning to the store where the alleged incident occurred and not committing any new law violations. 

How can I get a shoplifting charge dismissed? 

In the Houston area, most shoplifting cases are filed as misdemeanors. Even still, the consequences of a shoplifting conviction can be greater than many felonies due to the stigma associated with theft and stealing. Even if you are not sentenced to jail, a conviction can lead to difficulty finding work or housing. 

To effectively defend a shoplifting charge, a theft attorney should aggressively challenge the evidence, which typically includes the police report, surveillance video and witness statements. A person accused of shoplifting an item from a store must have acted intentionally. Our law firm recently obtained a dismissal of a shoplifting charge where a woman who was caring for a small child accidentally left the store without purchasing a small item where it was obvious that she was simply distracted. 

But even if it appears that the facts are not on your side, it is still possible to obtain a dismissal of a shoplifting charge. In the Houston area, many District Attorney’s Offices are willing to negotiate the dismissal of many first-time shoplifting charges if the defendant completes certain conditions. Once a shoplifting charge is dismissed, you may be eligible for an expunction of the charge, which is the best possible result in a criminal case in Texas as it results in all charges relating to the arrest to be destroyed. 

If you have been arrested for shoplifting at Home Depot in Houston – or anywhere else – call Ceja Law Firm today for a free consultation. The theft defense attorneys at Ceja Law Firm are fluent in Spanish and regularly obtain dismissals of shoplifting cases throughout the Houston area.