THE procedure used by law enforcement on Walmart shoplifters has been revealed.
A criminal defense attorney has given details on what to do in this case, and you might be surprised at how easy it is to get caught.
“If you are caught shoplifting at Walmart in Texas, you could face felony theft charges,” criminal defense attorney Ralph Manginello said in a video on the law website. Attorney 911.
To avoid any confusion about how this all-too-common example occurs, Manginello has provided a guide for viewers on what exactly shoplifting is and how to avoid legal issues related to lifting goods.
“The term shoplifting means stealing merchandise from an open retail store,” Manginello explains.
Manginello practices law in Texas, and Section 31.03 of the Texas Penal Code classifies shoplifting under the broader umbrella of theft.
To simplify the law, Manginello says states like Texas bring shoplifting, embezzlement, extortion, and receiving stolen property into the same theft suit.
“If you take property that is not yours without permission and you have no intention of returning it, you have committed theft.”
This type of theft committed in a retail store “during business hours” is considered shoplifting.
Is Walmart calling the authorities on shoplifters?
Shoplifting procedures can vary from Walmart to Walmart, with the store “often calling the cops for shoplifting violations,” Manginello said.
“If you are caught shoplifting at Walmart, a Loss Prevention Officer may reasonably detain you at the store until the police arrive.”
When the police arrive, the lawyer said it was common for the shoplifter to be arrested.
Still, there may be a slight ray of hope for those who commit what is considered a “low-level offense”, such as stealing a negligible amount of property.
In this case, Manginello said there is a chance the responding agent will simply issue a citation to the author.
What is the cost of the goods that will get you locked up?
In Texas, shoplifters can be charged with anything from a class C misdemeanor to a first degree felony.
“The classification of your offense will depend on the monetary value of the merchandise and whether you have a prior criminal record,” Manginello said.
“If the value of the stolen merchandise is less than $100 and you have no theft convictions on your record, you can only be convicted of a Class C misdemeanor.”
He explained that a person cannot be imprisoned for a class C and the maximum penalty for such a person is a $500 fine.
“If the value of the goods is $100 or more, or if it is less than $100 but you have a previous conviction for theft, you may be convicted of a Class B or Class A misdemeanor, or of a crime and risk a prison sentence.”
Will Walmart waive flight fees?
Criminal defense attorney Manginello insisted that while it’s possible the big-box giant could drop the theft charges, “you shouldn’t count on it” because “some Walmarts are known for overzealously pursuing even minor shoplifting charges”.
The legal expert goes on to explain that those who are first-time offenders can have their charges overturned or even dismissed through the use of their county’s deferred adjudication or pre-trial diversion program.
Both of these outlets help civilians get their charges properly processed through the court system without them having to go all the way to the Legislative Council.
Should you get a lawyer after a shoplifting?
“If you’ve been arrested for shoplifting, you should get a defense attorney as soon as possible,” Manginello recommended.
While the prison sentence is enough to scare a person into seeking legal protection, shoplifting convictions can also “significantly limit your job options and impact your future opportunities.” .
A good shoplifting lawyer can help a defendant understand their charges and what their options are for fighting them.
Attorneys will also have access to county-specific information on deferred arbitration and pre-trial arbitration.
Manginello also urges those who have already been charged to act quickly, as deadlines for these programs can arrive quickly.
Missing these dates could mean that a civilian would lose their only chance to avoid charges in court.