What leads a person in the Houston area to shoplift? It may be a one-time mistake or an act of desperation. After all, most people do not expect or want a run-in with the law. However, shoplifting is against the law, and if you are accused of such a crime it is important to know what to expect.

Be careful with your words

First, if you are stopped by security and accused of shoplifting, be careful what you say, if you say anything at all. Any statements you make might be used against you if your case goes to trial. You can always refuse to speak to anyone except your attorney.

Legal detainment of shoplifters

Second, it is important to know that store owners and security officers who suspect you have been shoplifting can detain you on their premises until the police arrive. However, they can only legally do so if they have probable cause that you stole from them. Even then, the detainment must be reasonable — that is, if the means or force of detainment is excessive it might not be legal.

Other acts that constitute shoplifting

Third, does shoplifting always mean that you took store goods and walked out the door? Not always. While state law varies, being a “lookout” or switching price tags on items can be chargeable offenses.

Seek professional legal advice when accused of shoplifting

Finally, do not be afraid to seek the help of an attorney if you are accused of shoplifting. Theft crimes like shoplifting in Texas can have harsh, life-long consequences. In addition to any penalties you might face, such as fines, community service, probation or even jail time, having a criminal record can make it more difficult to find a job, obtain housing or pursue an education. Ultimately, talking to a criminal defense attorney who can provide straight answers and a strong defense can help you move forward as you fight the charges you face.