My Friend Got Caught Stealing But I Didn’t Steal Anything. Why Was I Charged With Theft?
Even if you did not have merchandise on you when you passed the last point of sale or you never concealed any merchandise, the store’s loss prevention officer may believe that you are acting as a lookout and charge you under what’s called the theory of parties. The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure lays out the law of parties in § 7.01 and 7.02 as follows:
Sec. 7.01. PARTIES TO OFFENSES. (a) A person is criminally responsible as a party to an offense if the offense is committed by his own conduct, by the conduct of another for which he is criminally responsible, or by both.
(b) Each party to an offense may be charged with commission of the offense.
(c) All traditional distinctions between accomplices and principals are abolished by this section, and each party to an offense may be charged and convicted without alleging that he acted as a principal or accomplice.
Sec. 7.02. CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR CONDUCT OF ANOTHER. (a) A person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if:
(1) Acting with the kind of culpability required for the offense, he causes or aids an innocent or nonresponsible person to engage in conduct prohibited by the definition of the offense;
(2) Acting with intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense, he solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offense; or
(3) Having a legal duty to prevent the commission of the offense and acting with intent to promote or assist its commission, he fails to make a reasonable effort to prevent the commission of the offense.
(b) If, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent to commit it, if the offense was committed in furtherance of the unlawful purpose and was one that should have been anticipated as a result of the carrying out of the conspiracy.
What this means is that anyone who is working with another person towards the same criminal enterprise can be charged with any of the conduct that any of the other parties engage in. For example, the getaway driver in a burglary can be charged with burglary. They can be charged with murder, if a murder occurs during the burglary, even if they never touched a weapon or had any plan or desire to commit murder.
How Can They Prove That I Was Shoplifting If There Were No Cameras?
When people talk about evidence in a criminal case, the layperson often thinks of evidence as physical evidence such as weapons, recordings, and lab reports. That is not the bulk of evidence in a criminal case. The vast majority of the evidence that is presented before a jury in a criminal case is testimony. The other types of evidence that they would use would be the fact that they found you past the last point of sale with the items in your possession and without a receipt for those items. The testimony of the store’s loss prevention officer is likely to be the main evidence that they will use against you. You may wonder whether they can convict you based on the testimony of just one person. There is a rule in Texas called the “one witness rule” based on case law, and it states that the prosecution can prove their case by evidence from even just one witness if that’s all that they have.
It is important to note that while you may not believe you are on camera, oftentimes you are unaware of hidden cameras in stores. Retail stores have a wide variety of means that they use to deter people from committing theft and hidden cameras are certainly one of them. If they do have you on video, you can expect the prosecutors will use that evidence.
For more information on Being Charged As An Accomplice In Theft, a free case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (512) 478-9898 today.
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