Shoplifting charges? Charged with shoplifting in Texas?
It's the holiday season, which usually means people are out shopping and picking up gifts for friends and family. But what happens if you happen to shoplift something off the store shelf... can you be arrested for shoplifting if you haven't left the store yet? Let's break it down!
Most commonly, shoplifters are caught AFTER they leave the store, but it IS also possible to be arrested before you even leave the store as well.
What is considered shoplifting?
Shoplifting is generally defined as removing an item from a store without paying for it, right? But legally, all that is required for a shoplifting charge is for someone to move merchandise a way that is unexpected or inconsistent with how shoppers would normally handle it. For example, if you pick up an item and carry it in your hand to another part of the store, that isn't unreasonable behavior, but putting it in your pocket and then walking to another part of the store, is.
Often times retail stores will wait till you leave the store
Even though you can be charged with shoplifting without actually leaving the store, many stores will wait till the person has left the store before stopping them or calling the police. This is because it's often harder to prove that the person didn't mean to not pay for the item if they're still in the store. Someone could simply say, they forgot, or they meant to pay...and it would be difficult to prove otherwise.
How do you defend yourself if you are accused of shoplifting? If you are stopped before you leave the store, you have the right to defend yourself by saying that you meant to pay but forgot. For example, you left something in your cart by accident, checked out and realized later that something was left in the cart.
On the flip side, you could not use this defense if the item was say, IN your purse or pocket.
Depending on the evidence available in your case, you may be able to argue mistaken identity, lack of intent to steal the merchandise or lack of evidence against you.
When to Contact a Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer
Shoplifting may seem like a minor crime, but it can carry serious repercussions and permanency on your record. Give Ashmore and Ashmore a call if you find yourself in a situation like this!