What Happens If You Get Caught Shoplifting at Target?

If you get caught shoplifting from Target, you could face criminal charges for theft. Target is known for its extensive loss prevention practices and active efforts to catch shoplifters. Some strategies that Target loss prevention officers use include video surveillance, plainclothes security officers, and uniformed staff at the exits. 

When a security guard thinks that a customer is shoplifting, the guard will stop and question the potential thief. If any stolen property is recovered, Target will often issue a “no trespassing” order against the shoplifter, banning them from returning to the store. Target loss prevention will also contact the police, who will respond to the store to conduct an arrest and initiate criminal charges. 

Does Target Press Charges for Shoplifting?

Yes, Target will typically pursue criminal charges against shoplifters.

According to Texas law, shoplifting is a type of theft. Texas Penal Code § 31.03, which is the theft statute, states that “A person commits an offense if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property.” In other words, an individual commits theft when they take property that belongs to someone else and doesn’t intend to return it to the owner. When a theft occurs in a retail store during regular business hours, it is commonly referred to as shoplifting. 

The seriousness of the theft charges a shoplifter can face depends on the value of the merchandise taken and the shoplifter’s criminal record, with potential charges ranging from a Class C misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. 

When the lifted merchandise is worth $100 or more, or less than $100 when the shoplifter has a previous criminal conviction for theft, potential charges include Class B and Class A misdemeanors or any type of felony. Although most first-time shoplifters won’t be incarcerated, any theft conviction that is not a Class C misdemeanor can result in jail time. 

How Do I Get Shoplifting Charges Dismissed?

In Texas, first-time offenders can often get shoplifting charges dismissed by participating in court deferred adjudication or pretrial diversion programs.  If the program is successfully completed and the charges are dismissed, shoplifters can request a non-disclosure or expunction of the charges.

Deferred Adjudication

In deferred adjudication programs, shoplifters will be required to enter a guilty plea to the theft charge they are facing. However, they will not be convicted of the offense when they plead guilty. Rather, they are put on probation for a period of six months to one year, during which they may be required to take an anti-theft class, complete community service, and undergo drug and alcohol testing and evaluation. 

If the probationary period is completed without incident, the shoplifting charge will be dismissed without a conviction. The shoplifter can then submit a petition for non-disclosure to request that the record of the theft charge be sealed to everyone but law enforcement and other government officers.  

Pretrial Diversion

In order to participate in pretrial diversion, shoplifters must apply to the program and be admitted by their local District Attorney’s office.  If the DA accepts someone into the pretrial diversion program, they must sign a contract agreeing to a zero-tolerance policy against breaking the law. The contract may also require anti-theft classes and community service. 

If the pretrial diversion program is successfully completed, the theft charge will be dismissed entirely. After the charge is dismissed, pretrial diversion participants can usually apply to have charges expunged from their records.

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Read More

The Guide to Unreasonable Search and Seizure
The Guide to Texas Penal Code 12.44a
The Defendant’s Guide to Shoplifting
The Defendant’s Guide to Probable Cause
How to Get a Petty Theft Misdemeanor Expungement
How to Act When Stopped By Police

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