Fort Worth Theft Charges Lawyer | Tarrant County Shoplifting Attorney
Theft accusations should be taken very seriously.
Fort Worth criminal lawyer Jeff C. Kennedy has successfully defended theft and shoplifting charges in Tarrant County for over 20 years. Theft is considered a crime of moral turpitude and a conviction for a theft related offense can follow a person for a lifetime resulting in negative implications with current or future employment, schools and higher education, professional licenses, coach or participate in youth sports, and even the ability to rent an apartment or property.
Charged with Theft in Fort Worth or Tarrant County? You Must Act Immediately!
If you have been arrested or are facing theft charges in Fort Worth, Arlington, or any other city in Tarrant County, hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible can often avoid the negative effects that a theft or shoplifting charge can have on your criminal record.
Every theft or shoplifting case is unique and requires individual evaluation. While we can never guarantee you a certain legal outcome, Criminal Lawyer Jeff C. Kennedy has over 20 years of criminal defense experience and an unduplicated track record of favorably resolving hundreds of cases involving all different kinds of criminal charges, including:
• Theft by Check
• Theft of Service
• Fraudulent Removal of a Writing
• Possession of Stolen Property
• Unauthorized use of a Vehicle
As an example, in the case of the State of Texas versus “S.A.G.,” this person was charged with a Class A Misdemeanor Theft $750 – $2,500 filed in County Criminal Court 1 in Tarrant County. If convicted, S.A.G. was facing up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. The Result: CASE DISMISSED.
A person commits the offense of theft if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property. The Texas Penal Code utilizes a standard value ladder assigning the level of criminal offense to the value of pecuniary loss. As the value of pecuniary loss increases, so does the penalty range and possible punishment associated with the degree and level of offense. Penalties can range from a citation that is punishable only by a fine up to $500 or possible jail or prison time for more serious theft offenses.
TEXAS STANDARD VALUE LADDER AND PENALTIES FOR THEFT CRIMES
|VALUE OF LOSS
|LEVEL OF OFFENSE
Class C Misdemeanor
Class B Misdemeanor
Class A Misdemeanor
State Jail Felony
3rd Degree Felony
2nd Degree Felony
1st Degree Felony
up to $500 fine
up to 180 days county jail and up to $2,000
up to 1 year county jail and up to $4,000
180 days to 2 years state jail and up to $10,000
2-10 years prison and up to $10,000
2-20 years prison and up to $10,000
5-99 years or life in prison and up to $10,000
Determining Value of Loss and the Resulting Degree or Grade of Theft
The value of the property is determined by the fair market value of the property or service at the time and place of the offense. If the fair market value of the property cannot be ascertained, the value is the cost of replacing the property within a reasonable time after the theft. The difference between facing misdemeanor or felony charges for theft can often hinge upon the valuation of the property or service. The Law Offices of Jeff C. Kennedy has vast experience investigating the value of property and maintains the resources and experts required to dispute erroneous valuations.
Enhanced Penalties for Theft or Shoplifting
If you have prior theft convictions on your record, your situation could get even worse. If you have one prior conviction involving any grade of theft, a subsequent charge for a Class C Misdemeanor Theft under $100 could be enhanced and filed as a Class B Misdemeanor. If you have 2 prior theft convictions, and the value of the property stolen in a subsequent case is less than $2,500, your charge could be enhanced and filed as a State Jail Felony rather than a Class A or Class B Misdemeanor.
Civil Penalties for Theft Offenses
And in addition to these criminal penalties, you could also be held liable for civil penalties. For example, if you are arrested for shoplifting, the store merchant could attempt to recover the amount of actual damages caused by the theft and also:
• damages up to $1,000 from the person who committed the theft
• damages up to $5,000 from the parent if the person who committed the theft was a minor
• court costs and attorney’s fees
If you were arrested for theft or shoplifting and receive a letter demanding that you reimburse the store merchant for damages or costs incurred in investigating the case, DO NOT pay any money to the merchant or their collection firm. You need to contact an experienced theft lawyer immediately to discuss your options and begin preparing a defense.
When you have months or years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines hanging over your head, you want the very best theft attorney defending you. That’s why Tarrant County citizens call the Law Offices of Jeff C. Kennedy. While it’s our goal to get your case dismissed, we have an impeccable ability to take your case to trial if necessary. In fact, our trial lawyers rank in the top 100 of all trial lawyers in the US, as awarded by The National Trial Lawyers.
Call the Law Offices of Jeff C. Kennedy immediately at 817-605-1010 for your free case evaluation. We’ll discuss all the facts of your case and immediately begin to prepare defense strategies.
Helpful Information Regarding Shoplifting Charges
I was arrested for shoplifting. What do I do now?
Hire an experienced theft lawyer immediately. If you have been arrested for theft or shoplifting it is extremely important to hire an attorney now to begin preparing a defense and discuss possible options to achieve a dismissal of the charges. Many people arrested for shoplifting mistakenly believe that it a minor or petty offense and they can handle the charges themselves. Unfortunately, a conviction for shoplifting or a record of arrest for theft can have negative repercussions and affect you for the rest of your life. An arrest for shoplifting is public record and can be accessed by employers, creditors, educators including colleges and public schools, law enforcement agencies and state licensing agencies.
Can a shoplifting charge be dismissed?
Possibly. If you have no prior criminal history, you may be eligible for a first time offender or pre-trial diversion program which could result in dismissal of the charges. It may also be possible to negotiate an agreement to dismiss the charges with the District Attorney assigned to your case if certain requirements are met such as completing a theft counseling class and performing community service at a non-profit organization. If charges are dismissed, you may also be eligible to file a Petition for Expunction of Records and have the entire record expunged from your criminal history. Keep in mind that there are strict application deadlines if you are eligible to apply for a first time offender or pre-trial diversion program, so contact an attorney immediately to discuss the facts of your case.
Will the store or merchant just agree to drop the charges?
Probably not. Retail theft accounts for billions of dollars in lost profits to merchants each year. In order to deter these losses, merchants must bear the added costs of loss prevention personnel, video surveillance, and anti-theft devices. Because of this financial loss and added cost, big box stores such as Wal-mart, Target, Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics and major department stores such as Dillard’s, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom, Kohl’s and Sears are less likely to agree to drop the charges or set a precedent for being easy on shoplifters. However, an experienced theft attorney can formulate the best defense for the facts of your case, possibly negotiate a dismissal or advise if you quality for a pre trial diversion or first offender program.
If I go shopping with a friend and they are caught for shoplifting, can I be in trouble?
Possibly. If you knew or had knowledge that your friend was shoplifting or participated in the act of shoplifting, you could be considered an accomplice or “party” to the offense and also be charged with shoplifting. The Texas Penal Code provides that a person is criminally responsible as a party to an offense if the offense is committed by his own conduct, by the conduct of another for which he is criminally responsible, or by both. Thus, if you had knowledge that your friend was shoplifting and helped or encouraged them to commit the act, you could be held criminally responsible and charged with shoplifting. A common example of a party to a theft charge would be if you acted as a decoy, look out or getaway driver you could also be charged with shoplifting.
Can a store video tape me in a dressing room?
No. Customers or consumers have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a dressing room or a restroom. However, loss prevention will closely monitor the number of items that you take into and out of a dressing room or restroom. If you exit with fewer items, you are likely going to be investigated by a loss prevention officer.
The store says they have me on video shoplifting. Do they have to show me the video?
No. And the loss prevention personnel likely will not. However, most merchants will provide a copy of the video surveillance to the police department who will include the video as digital media evidence when they formally file the shoplifting case with the District Attorney. An experienced defense attorney will request discovery of this video and review the footage with you. Even without video surveillance, you can still be charged with shoplifting.
I was arrested for shoplifting and the store recovered all of the merchandise. Now they want me to pay a civil penalty.
Most merchants will secure the services of a civil law firm or a collection agency in order to seek recovery of money from you in order to defray the costs of investigating the shoplifting charge. If you received a phone call or a demand letter on behalf of a merchant seeking a civil recovery, DO NOT pay or agree to pay any dollar amount and hire an experienced lawyer immediately. Chapter 134 of the Texas Civil and Practices Remedies Code, Theft Liability Act provides that a merchant may recover up to $1,000 in damages from the person that committed the theft. If the person was a minor, the merchant may recover up to $5,000 in damages from a parent. However, an experienced shoplifting attorney can advise you of your rights and defend you against any civil recovery demand made on behalf of the merchant.
I was arrested for shoplifting and the store gave me a criminal trespass warning to stay out of the store. Can they do that?
Yes. If you are arrested for shoplifting almost every merchant will provide a criminal trespass warning effectively forbidding your entry on their premises for a specific duration of time. Once you have been provided the warning, you could commit the offense of criminal trespass if you return to that store during the time period provided by the criminal trespass warning. This warning is generally given in the presence of a police officer and could be recorded in police department database. Also, the loss prevention officer will generally take a photo of you to be logged in their internal database.
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