Larry P. McDougal
Larry P. McDougal - Attorney at Law
Richmond, Texas
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5 things to know if you are facing shoplifting charges

You went into your favorite store and saw some makeup or a cute outfit that you just couldn't leave without. The problem now is deciding how you are going to get the items. You don't have enough cash to pay for it and you don't think that anyone will loan you the money to make the purchase. You decide that you are going to just take the items -- after all, that little bit won't hurt the business.

This decision just landed you in some serious trouble because you got caught. Now, you are facing charges for shoplifting. Here are five things you need to know:

#1: You don't have to leave the store to be charged

You can face a shoplifting charge for concealing merchandise, even if you don't leave the store. Trying to hide items from the store from the view of the employees and others might be construed as you trying to hide the items in an effort to leave the store without paying for them. It is always best to place items you plan on purchasing in the basket or cart. You shouldn't ever place them in your purse or bag.

#2: You can face charges even if you paid something

Switching price tags on merchandise is a form of shoplifting. For example, if you take the price sticker off a discounted items and place it on a full price item, you can face shoplifting charges. This is true even if you pay for the merchandise at the discounted price. You still deprived the store owner of the rightful profit he or she should have made from the item.

#3: The circumstances of your situation matter

The charge you face depends on a host of factors, including the value of the merchandise. The type of merchandise also matters. Each of these aspects are considered carefully when the prosecution is trying to decide what charge you should face.

#4: A conviction can impact your entire life

A shoplifting conviction can negatively impact your entire life. You will have a criminal record after the conviction. This can make it hard for you to find a job. Think about this -- you apply for a job at a store. The interviewer says that you need to have a background check done and that you will be hired if it comes back fine. The shoplifting conviction would likely prevent you from getting that job.

#5: You have defense options: You don't have to plead guilty

You have defense options for a shoplifting charge. The points that the prosecution plans to raise have an impact on the defense options you have. In some cases, you might be able to seek out a pretrial option, such as a plea agreement, to resolve your case. An experienced criminal defense lawyer in your area can give you advice on how to reach the best outcome in your case.

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