Your Rights Inside the Store
When you steal from a store like Wal-Mart, the store has the right to hold you there until authorities arrive. While everywhere is different, Wal-Mart need probable cause to detain you for shoplifting. This means that an employee must see you take an item, conceal it, and attempt to leave the store with it without paying for it, or do any of the other suspicious things mentioned above.
If there was no probable cause and you were stopped only on a presumption, it’s possible for the case against you to be dismissed as you were unlawfully detained. A knowledgeable defense attorney knows how to defend a case in these circumstances and knows how to prove whether or not a store employee had enough probable cause to approach you in the first place.
Similarly, a defense attorney can explain your rights to you so that you aren’t taken advantage of during an investigation and trial. They can help you avoid incriminating yourself during questioning or being coerced into giving away your rights through the use of bullying tactics by this large company. Here, working with a defense lawyer can prove invaluable.
Possible Punishments for Shoplifting at Wal-Mart
If you’re found guilty of any kind of theft from Wal-Mart, you risk a jail or prison sentence, fines, and other damaging consequences. This all depends on the facts regarding your case including the value of the stolen item(s) and your own criminal history. Here is a general breakdown of the possible penalties you could face for shoplifting from Wal-Mart.
|Nature of the Crime||Crime Classification||Punishment|
|Item stolen is worth under $100||Class C Misdemeanor||Fines up to $500|
|Item stolen is worth $100 or more but under $750, or is a specific item like a driver’s license or similar identification card||Class B Misdemeanor||Up to 180 days in jail and fines as high as $2,000|
|Item stolen is worth $750 or more but under $2,500||Class A Misdemeanor||Up to 1 year in jail and fines as high as $4,000|
|Item stolen is worth $2,500 or more but under $30,000||State Jail Felony||180 days to 2 years of in state jail and fines as high as $10,000|
|Item stolen is worth $30,000 or more but under $150,000||Third-Degree Felony||2 to 10 years jail and fines as high as $10,000|
|Item stolen is worth $150,000 or more but under $300,000||Second-Degree Felony||2 to 20 years in jail and fines as high as $10,000|
|Item stolen is worth $300,000 or more||First-Degree Felony||5 to 99 years in jail and fines as high as $10,000|
You may also be told that you can never lawfully enter a Wal-Mart store again, regardless of the outcome of your case. If you get banned from the store and are caught in one, you could be charged with trespassing and risk further legal consequences. These, however, are all generalities and your case might differ in terms of penalties. If you contact the Law Office of Paul Schiffer, we can look at your case and give you a more specific outline of what you could expect in terms of possible punishments if convicted.
Prior Convictions on Theft Charge in Texas
In Texas, prior theft convictions can allow a judge to hand down a harsher sentence than what your charge calls for. This is a broad and complicated area and another excellent reason that having a defense attorney in these circumstances is invaluable. Your attorney can help negotiate your sentence for you and try to get you less of a sentence instead of the inflated charge.
When convicted of any crime, no matter how small it is, you’ll have a permanent criminal record can show up on background checks done by potential employers or anyone else who cares to look you up. This can stop you from getting a job, negatively affect your credit, inhibit you from getting bank loans, restrict you from getting certain licenses or certifications, or keep you from renting property. It can even impact custody or visitation agreements for your children. When you’re convicted of shoplifting, you face a lifetime of consequences even after you serve your time or pay your fines.
Possible Defenses for Shoplifting
There are credible defenses that a good defense attorney can use to help you fight back against a shoplifting charge. One of the most common defenses is a lack of intent. You have to intend to steal an item from a store in order to be charged with shoplifting. Your attorney can also show that you were unlawfully detained by the store which can lead to your charges being dropped.
In some instances, there are mitigating factors that can help you fight a shoplifting accusation. For example, your age can impact your sentence lack of any prior criminal history, or if you were acting under duress. A qualified attorney knows how to use these and other factors factors to help build your defense.
When you align yourself with a qualified defense attorney like Paul Schiffer and his team you’ll have all the help you need to fight back against Wal-Mart and their corporate attorneys and prosecutors. We will listen to your case, analyze it, and tell you what to expect in terms of your possible defenses for your case as well as the penalties you face if convicted. Contact our office by phone, email, through our website, or by stopping by to talk in person. We’re ready to help you today.