By Criminal Defense Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal
There are currently a glut of warrants for theft in Collin County from shoplifting cases.
Why? Because during the beginning of the pandemic, police did not want to take folks to jail for shoplifting. Police were under marching orders to keep the jail clear and police were like anyone else who didn’t want to ride with a stranger in a car for 20 minutes if they didn’t have to.
You can check Collin County Warrants here. The warrant page says all warrants may not be visible to the public. If a warrant is not visible it’s typically because of some organized crime ring where they round up the entire group at once. Shoplifting theft cases don’t fit this profile.
Why Are They Getting Warrants Months and Months Later?
People are required to go to jail in most criminal cases – even if it’s just to book in then out. The reason is simple — if criminal court were voluntary, no one would come. The law doesn’t allow people to be prosecuted in absentia so that means the courts have to have some way to compel you to come. They make you come to court by holding the threat of jail over your head.
Because they didn’t take someone to jail in the first place in March, April, or May – they now have to do it in September or October.
How are They Doing This?
Police are asking judges to sign arrest warrants based on probable cause affidavits. All a probable cause affidavit lays out is the “probable cause” for the charge. The judge then signs the warrant which allows police to arrest a person. Criminal charges come later in this scenario.
Another way arrest warrants are triggered is where the District Attorney’s office files the actual criminal charges.
Are They Going to Come and Get Me if I Have a Shoplifting Warrant?
Legally they can but they might not. They may not have the resources to resolve this glut of cases and they may just be satisfied for folks to either turn themselves in or for the warrant to sit dormant until someone gets pulled over at some point in the future.
A person with an active arrest warrant should always do their best to promptly resolve the warrant by turning themselves in, however. Not only is it required by law but as I tell clients by turning yourself in with a plan to bond – you are in control and can minimize how long you’re in jail. I tell clients an arrest will happen at the worst and most inconvenient time if they don’t resolve it promptly (like when you’re on a big date or on your way to your kids soccer game).
Most warrants like this already have a bond amount set in advance so you might not even have to wait for a judge. Also, most shoplifting cases don’t particularly carry bond amounts which are extraordinarily high. There is a good chance you are in and out of jail regardless of your financial condition.
Does This Make My Case Worse?
No. The prosecutor will ultimately file charges and the vast majority of shoplifting cases are misdemeanors. They carry a range of options which allow for expunctions or ways to get your record cleared. I’ve handled so many theft cases I can’t count them all. I can safely say how the person was apprehended never makes a difference in the case – unless, of course there was a fight or something like that.
There is an excellent chance of getting theft off your record depending on your personal history and the facts of the case through an expunction or non-disclosure.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is board certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is recognized as a Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters. Jeremy is a senior partner at Rosenthal, Kalabus & Therrian, PLLC. www.texasdefensefirm.com.