Larry P. McDougal
Larry P. McDougal - Attorney at Law
Richmond, Texas
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What constitutes retail theft?

People in Texas should ensure they are paying for merchandise that they leave the store with. This can help to prevent them from being accused of retail theft, which is a very serious matter. There are many factors that can impact this type of charge. Knowing a bit about the laws here can help you to better understand this crime so you can avoid charges.

Some individuals think that retail theft has to do only with trying to walk out of the store without paying for things. While this is a common form of the crime, there are other situations that might lead to a retail theft charge.

Concealment of merchandise

You don't necessarily have to leave the store to be charged with retail theft. If you conceal merchandise in a way that makes it appear as though your intent is to leave without paying for it, you might be arrested. For example, don't place a tube of lipstick into your purse before you pay. Putting it there could give someone a reason to think that you were going to steal it.

Sometimes, the concealment might not be something that you even think about. You might be purchasing a cooler and decide to stick the ice cream in there to keep it cold. When you get to the checkout, you forget to put the ice cream up for the cashier. When the cashier rings up the cooler, she opens it and finds the item inside. You may be accused of trying to steal the ice cream.

As you can see, retail theft accusations sometimes come down to how things appear. Instead of taking any chances, you should be very careful about what you do when you are in the store.

Changing prices, barcodes or stickers

Another way that retail theft occurs is when people knowingly change the barcodes, tags or stickers in a way that lowers the price below what the merchant was asking for the item. This deprives the owner of the item and the intended profit, which is illegal.

Facing a charge of retail theft isn't going to be easy. You have to look at the circumstances of the situation and find out what you might be able to do to poke holes in the prosecution's case. You might also have options like a plea deal. Just remember that you must think about how the outcome of the case can impact your future and adjust your defense accordingly.

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