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Can I Be Detained If I Am Suspected of Shoplifting in Texas?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Karnes County shoplifting defense attorney

Shoplifting is a common crime that occurs in many retail businesses. For both large corporations like Walmart and mom-and-pop shops, stores want to make sure the patrons coming through their doors are abiding by the law. In an attempt to reduce the number of items taken from shelves without paying, some stores have their employees check receipts before customers exit the premises. This may be helpful to catch the few individuals attempting to shoplift, but what about the majority of other loyal customers who waited in line at the register? Should they be subject to this routine interruption?

Shopkeeper’s Privilege in Texas

Many large corporations have receipt-checkers placed at all of their exits to act as an additional level of protection against shoplifters. Walmart, Costco, and Sam’s Club have some of the largest stores in the country and also make the most use of these “security checks.” However, their presence can sometimes be frustrating and insulting to customers. After standing in a long line for the past 30 minutes, it can feel unfair to have to take the time for another employee to scan your cart. It may seem as if these employees have no power, but according to Texas’ Shopkeeper’s Privilege law, refusing to show your receipt could be your first step toward detention.

In Texas, there is no law that legally allows a store to require you to show your receipt. In other words, there is no legal consequence if you refuse to show employees your receipt. However, if the store suspects you of shoplifting, they are able to detain you for a limited amount of time. Not producing your receipt is not reason enough to detain you, but if there are other factors about you that are deemed “suspicious,” the store can keep you in their custody and call the authorities. This is true of all stores in Texas, aside from those that require membership from their customers. Both Costco and Sam’s Club require anyone who wishes to shop with them to have a membership. Because these memberships have their own terms and services, anyone who signs their contracts have legally agreed to show their receipt before leaving the store. In cases such as these, customers must abide by the contract that they signed or risk facing legal consequences.

What Is Considered Theft?

The crime of shoplifting (also known as retail theft) can seem fairly straightforward, but it does include more than just slipping something into your pocket. According to Texas law, anyone who unlawfully obtains property with the intent of depriving the owner of said property is committing theft. This may include switching price tags on items in order to pay a lower price or making unlawful returns of items that were never actually purchased. Under the law, there are three ways in which someone can “obtain” an item unlawfully:

  1. Acquiring the property without the owner’s consent.

  2. Receiving the item from another individual with full knowledge that the item was stolen.

  3. The property was in the hands of a law enforcement agency and was known to be stolen, and the actor takes the property with full knowledge of its origin.

Charges for theft are contingent upon the value of the item and the nature of the theft. If the stolen property is less than $100 in value, a person may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. However, these charges can increase to a first-degree felony for stolen property that is $300,000 or more in value.

Contact a Jourdanton Shoplifting Defense Lawyer

Whether you showed your receipt at the door or not, being detained in a store and facing charges of theft can be stressful in the moment and detrimental to your future. At BCP Criminal Defense Attorneys, we understand that not every situation is as it seems. With over 40 years of combined experience in criminal law, our lawyers work to help you avoid the potential fines and jail time that can come with theft crimes. If you are facing shoplifting charges, or if you simply want to understand your rights as a customer, contact our Atascosa County criminal defense attorneys at 830-769-1010 for a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.wandtv.com/news/can-walmart-make-you-show-a-receipt/article_cc412c92-13d4-11ea-9bff-77c9df1ad1d6.html

https://www.khou.com/article/news/local/verify/are-you-legally-required-to-stop-and-show-your-receipt-while-leaving-walmart/285-0b3072bc-03ed-4614-a595-1e42eaa6c92c

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.31.htm

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