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Theft Shoplifting | Harris County Juvenile Lawyers Discuss Options

Harris County Juvenile Lawyers for Theft Defense

Houston Board Certified Juvenile Attorney James Sullivan represents children (and adults) charged with misdemeanor and felony theft delinquency cases in Harris and the surrounding counties.  Theft of any amount is a very serious crime.  It is a crime of moral turpitude (dishonesty) and a conviction for theft could adversely affect your child for the rest of your life.  Your child really cannot afford a conviction for theft on his or her record.  Universities and colleges have access to juvenile records.  A conviction could impact their admission to a good college or from receiving a scholarship.  Law enforcement also has access to juvenile records and they may treat a driver or passenger differently than someone without a record. 

If your child is charged at age 17, then he or she is considered an adult under Texas law and is prosecuted in criminal court.  Texas is one of only 12 states which prosecutes offenders under the age of 18 as adults.  As a result, many teenagers plead guilty to criminal charges for time served just to get out of jail or to avoid being on probation.  At ages 17, almost all lack the maturity and understanding of the lifelong consequences of a theft conviction.  They are only thinking of the short term benefits of either getting out of jail immediately or avoiding a six to twelve month probation. Many are represented by overworked and underpaid court-appointed attorneys who may not be willing or able to dissuade the teenager from making a poor decision that will impact him or her for the rest of his life.

Each year, hundreds of people contact Attorney James Sullivan in order to get their theft convictions expunged from their record because they cannot get a job but unfortunately a criminal theft conviction cannot be expunged or sealed (non-disclosed).  Young adults especially may not know about or consider the far-reaching effects of having a theft conviction on their record. 

Juvenile misdemeanor theft convictions can be sealed two years after the end of probation or age 19, whichever comes first.  Felony theft convictions can be sealed at age 19.  In both instances, the person must stay out of trouble because a criminal conviction at age 17 or later prevent the records from being sealed.  Of course, a criminal conviction is worse because it is a public record that is easily accessible on-line or at the courthouse.

Attorney James Sullivan can discuss with you the possible options in order to later get your juvenile or criminal theft case record sealed or expunged.

What is Theft?

A person commits theft if he unlawfully takes another person’s property without their consent and with the intent to deprive the owner of the property [Texas Penal Code Sec. 31.03].  Obviously, if he did not intend to take the other person’s property, then it is not theft.  For example, in an alleged shoplifting case, if you place a case of beer on the rack under your shopping cart, forget about it and then walk out of the grocery store without paying for it, you should not be held responsible.  Or, if your child puts an item in your shopping bag without your knowledge and you leave the store without paying for it, you should not be convicted of theft.

What Could Happen if I Get Caught Stealing?

If you have been charged with shoplifting or any other theft related crime, you need a Houston theft crime attorney to represent you.  You may face serious consequences if you have been arrested for theft in the Greater Houston area.  Your penalties will vary depending on the value of what you allegedly stole and other factors.  Theft crimes include shoplifting, hot checks, fraud, embezzlement and identity theft.  Theft crime can range from class C misdemeanor (such as a traffic violation level offense) to a first degree felony.  Burglary of a motor vehicle is a class A misdemeanor.  Auto theft is usually charged as a felony offense unless the value of the motor vehicle stolen is less than $1,500.  Other felony theft related crimes include credit card abuse (state jail felony), burglary of a building (state jail felony) and burglary of a habitation (2nd degree felony).

Houston Juvenile Attorneys

Houston theft crime lawyer James Sullivan will discuss with you the seriousness of your charge and the various effective defense strategies that are best suited for your particular case.  Before you make your stipulation in juvenile court or plea in criminal court, it is important that you consult a theft crimes defense lawyer.   A good defense lawyer may be able to win your case at trial or persuade the prosecutor to dismiss the charges.   Other possible outcomes include deferred prosecution in juvenile court and deferred adjudication or pretrial intervention in criminal court.

Contact Houston Criminal Trial Lawyers James Sullivan and Associates at (281) 546-6428 for a free confidential consultation and case evaluation.
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