A CCTV camera catching shoplifters

One of the most common arrests in Pasadena Texas is for shoplifting. Although most shoplifting arrests are filed as misdemeanors, a shoplifting conviction can be more detrimental to a person’s record and ability to obtain work or housing than many felonies. Fortunately, it is possible to keep a shoplifting arrest off of your record with the help of an experienced shoplifting defense attorney. 

How is shoplifting charged in Texas? 

In Texas, shoplifting is charged as theft and the degree of offense is based on the amount alleged to have been stolen (or attempted to have been stolen). The potential punishment for shoplifting is as follows:

  • Class “C” misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 (value of the property is less than $100).
  • Class “B” misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of $2000 (value of the property is $100 or more but less than $750).
  • Class “A” misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4000 (value of the property is $750 or more but less than $2500).
  • State Jail Felony punishable by 180 days to 2 years in State Jail (value of the property is $2500 or more but less than $30,000).

Most theft arrests in Pasadena TX are charged as Class “C” or Class “B” misdemeanors. It is relatively rare for a shoplifting case to be charged higher than a State Jail Felony. 

What happens when a person is arrested for theft in Pasadena TX?

If a person is arrested for shoplifting in Pasadena, what will happen may depend on the amount of merchandise that a person allegedly stole or attempted to steal. If the amount is below $100 then a police officer will often give the person a citation and court date and release them. If the amount is above $100 then the person will typically be taken to downtown Houston and processed at the Joint Processing Center at 700 N San Jacinto. 

If a person is taken to the Joint Processing Center, they will typically see a magistrate judge within 24 hours who will set a bond amount. If a person is arrested for a first-time shoplifting offense, it is very likely that they will receive a free (“PR”) bond and will not have to pay any money to bond out of jail. If the case is charged as a felony or if the person has significant criminal history, then it is possible that the person will have to pay a bond before being released after a shoplifting arrest. 

How can I get my shoplifting case dismissed?

An experienced shoplifting defense attorney should have a clear strategy to defend a shoplifting charge and obtain a dismissal. In order to maximize your chances for a dismissal, your shoplifting defense attorney should start by challenging the facts of the case. It is important to understand that in a shoplifting case (or any criminal case) it is the burden of the State of Texas to prove every element of the case. In some cases, evidence of a person’s intent to steal may be lacking or evidence may be lost. In other cases, the police may have violated a person’s rights by taking a statement from the person after they were placed under arrest.

Even if it appears that a shoplifting case can be proved, it is still possible to negotiate a dismissal of the charges where a person has minimal prior criminal history. In Harris County, there are program that can result in the dismissal of a shoplifting case. But the plan “a” should always be to challenge the facts and obtain a dismissal due to a factual problem with the case. 

How can I keep a shoplifting case off of my record?  

If your shoplifting case is dismissed or if you are acquitted at trial, then you would be eligible for an expunction of a shoplifting charge. Under Texas law, there is no better result than an expunction of a shoplifting charge, as an expunction results in all records relating to the arrest to be physically destroyed. Once a shoplifting arrest is expunged, the arrest will not appear on most criminal history searches, and the person would be legally entitled to deny the existence of the arrest in most instances. The goal after a Pasadena shoplifting arrest should always be to obtain an expunction of the charge. 

Attorney Jose Ceja is a former prosecutor who regularly obtains dismissals of shoplifting charges throughout the Greater Houston area, including Pasadena. If you are charged with theft in Pasadena, call Ceja Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.