Possession of Retail Theft Instruments

In some shoplifting cases, the person will use a shielding or deactivation instrument to commit retail theft. Texas Penal Code Section 31.15 prohibits the possession manufacture or distribution of certain types of instruments used to commit retail theft. The crime is charged as a Class A misdemeanor.

Texas law defines the term “shielding or deactivation instrument” to mean any item or tool designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of preventing the detection of stolen merchandise by a retail theft detector. The term specifically includes a metal-lined or foil-lined shopping bag and any item used to remove a security tag affixed to retail merchandise.

The term “retail theft detector” means an electrical, mechanical, electronic, or magnetic device used to prevent or detect shoplifting and includes any article or component part essential to the proper operation of the device.

Attorney for Possession of Retail Theft Instruments in San Antonio

If you were charged shoplifting or the related criminal offense of possessing, manufacturing, or distributing an instrument used to commit theft, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in San Antonio, TX, at Flanary Law Firm, PLLC.

Don Flanary represents clients charged with retail theft and related crimes throughout the greater San Antonio area including all of Bexar County and the surrounding counties of Kendall County, Comal County, Guadalupe County, Wilson County, Atascosa County, Medina County, and Bandera County.

Call (210) 738-8383 today. 


Elements of Possessing Retail Theft Tools in Texas

The elements of the offense of possessing an instrument used to commit retail theft include:

  • the defendant acted with the intent to use the instrument;
  • to commit theft; and
  • by possessing a shielding or deactivation instrument; or
  • by knowingly manufacturing, selling, offering for sale, or otherwise distributing a shielding or deactivation instrument.

Most shoplifting or retail theft crimes involve a person unlawfully appropriating property with intent to deprive the owner of the property of the property. The owner of the property is usually a merchant at a retail establishment. Texas law provides that appropriation of property is unlawful under the following conditions:

  • it is without the owner's effective consent;
  • the property is stolen and the person appropriates the property knowing it was stolen by another;
  • property in the custody of any law enforcement agency was explicitly represented by any law enforcement agent to the person as being stolen and the person appropriates the property believing it was stolen by another.

For purposes of the Texas statute prohibiting retail theft, the term “appropriate” means to bring about a transfer or purported transfer or title to or other nonpossessory interest in property, whether to the actor or another; to acquire or otherwise exercise control over property other than real property.

The term “deprive” means to:

  • withhold property from the owner permanently or for so extended a period of time that a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property is lost to the owner;
  • to restore property only upon payment of reward or other compensation;
  • to dispose of property in a manner that makes recovery of the property by the owner unlikely.

The term “owner” means a person who has title to the property, possession of the property, or a greater right to possession of the property than the person charged.


Attorney for Possessing a Shoplifting Instrument in Bexar County, TX

If you were charged with shoplifting or retail theft in San Antonio, TX. Don Flanary also represents clients on the related charges of possessing, manufacturing, or distributing a shoplifting instrument used to commit theft, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in San Antonio, TX.

With offices in San Antonio, TX, Don Flanary is experienced in defending theft crimes and represents clients throughout Bexar County and the surrounding counties of Kendall County, Comal County, Guadalupe County, Wilson County, Atascosa County, Medina County, and Bandera County.

Call (210) 738-8383 today.


This article was last updated on Wednesday, December 28, 2016.

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