Keeping Theft Charges Off Your Record

When it comes to applying for jobs, a theft conviction is one of the worst possible convictions to have on your record. At the end of the day, it is going to be pretty tough for a potential employer to believe they can trust a person around their cash if that person has previously been caught taking something of value that didn't belong to them.

So, if you were charged with a theft offense in Texas, you've got your work cut out for you. However, you don't have to face the charge alone. You can turn to the Waco law firm of Sutton Milam & Fanning. Our attorneys will do everything possible to keep your record clean. That could mean pleading "not guilty" and proceeding to trial. Or, it could mean securing an offer of deferred probation or some other resolution that enables us to minimize the damage to your record.

If You Didn't Intend To Steal, You're Not A Thief

Keep in mind that a person must intend to commit theft in order to be guilty of it. This may seem like a silly thing to say, but sometimes people commit theft when they are at a store with other people without telling those other people what they are up to. In these cases, loss prevention staff and law enforcement officers tend to declare the entire group guilty of shoplifting.

Now, it is possible that the entire group could be guilty of theft when stolen merchandise is only found on one person. Imagine a situation where Person 1 is actually putting merchandise in his bag, Person 2 is standing lookout, Person 3 is intentionally distracting a store employee and Person 4 is waiting in the parking lot, revving the engine of the getaway car.

Here, through what we commonly refer to as the law of parties, all four people would be guilty. However, if Persons 2, 3 and 4 are not in any way helping or encouraging Person 1 to commit theft, then they don't become guilty simply because they are present.

If This Is Your Third Offense, A Stolen Candy Bar Could Mean Prison Time

There is an enhancement in the law regarding theft that you should know. If a person has two theft convictions on his or her record, a third theft charge can be indicted as a state jail felony even if it would be otherwise charged as a Class C misdemeanor. In other words, you could spend two years in prison for stealing a pack of gum.

Will You Be Forced To Hold An Embarrassing Sign?

In County Court at Law #1, Judge Freeman will, as a term and condition of any theft probation in his court, require defendants to sit in his jury box for almost an entire morning during Thursday or Friday pleas and hold a sign up in front of them which reads, "I'm a Thief."

Judge Freeman claims that people have a choice, but the alternative available to the defendant is that they spend five days in jail ... a pretty easy choice. In fact, no choice at all here, really. Probationers have reported feeling embarrassed, humiliated and demeaned by this practice. However, we have yet to see anyone choose the five days of jail.

Learn more about what to expect from the local court system by calling our Waco lawyers at 254-633-3048 or sending us an email. The first consultation is free.