The following is a guest article courtesy of Rosenblum Law Firm.
Shoplifting in general falls under a theft or larceny crime and is penalized generally based on the value of the merchandise that is stolen. Shoplifting is taking an item from a store with the intention of not paying the full value for the item. This can include improperly concealing an item, being the lookout for another shoplifter, switching the price tags, and refund fraud. Each state has their own laws with regards to shoplifting and can impose different penalties. Shoplifting is becoming a more frequently encountered offense in Texas, since the state is home to thousands of malls and strip malls.
Texas law states that shoplifting is the taking of another’s property without consent, either by fraud, deceit or the physical act of stealing it. Technically you don’t have to have left the store to be caught shoplifting, because any behavior that shows you were intending to deprive the owner of its value would suffice for a shoplifting charge.
What Are The Penalties For A Shoplifting Charge In Texas?
The punishment for a criminal shoplifting charge in Texas is directly proportional to the value of the item that was taken. In general the greater monetary value the item has, the tougher the penalty will be. If multiple items were stolen then the aggregate (combined) value of the items together would be used to decide the penalties. The penalties for shoplifting in Texas are as follows:
- If the item stolen is less than $50 then it is classified as a Class C misdemeanor and will include a fine no more than $500
- If the item is valued between $50 and $500 then it is classified as a Class B misdemeanor and can result in no more than 180 days in county jail and a fine no greater than $2000.
- If the item is valued to be more than $500 but less than $1,500 it is considered a Class A misdemeanor, with a maximum of 1 year in county jail and a fine no higher than $4,000.
- If the item is valued to be more than $1,500 dollars but less than $20,000 it is considered a felony crime and will require state prison with sentences running between 180 days and 2 years with a maximum fine of $10,000.
- If the item is valued between $20,000 and less than $100,000 then it is considered a third-degree felony with a state prison sentence running between 2 to 10 years and a maximum $10,000 fine.
- If the item is valued to be more than $100,000 but less than $200,000 it is a second-degree felony with 2 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of not more than $10,000.
- If the item is valued at $200,000 or more then it is considered a first-degree felony with 5 to 99 years in state prison and fine no more than $10,000.
The guidelines above are the punishments for first time offenders. If you have a criminal history or a weapon was involved in the commission of the crime the penalties can be tougher. In general if the shoplifting was not serious, than in all likelihood you will be charged with a misdemeanor charge and may be required to do community service and to pay the fines.
Under the Texas Theft Liability Act a criminal conviction for a shoplifting charge may require that the victim be given restitution to pay for the items which were lost. The victim also can bring a civil law suit against the shoplifter which is dealt with separately from the criminal case.
What Should I Do If I Am Being Charged With Shoplifting In Texas?
The criminal charges related to shoplifting are very serious and can carry heavy penalties. It’s in your best interest to contact a Texas criminal defense attorney to help protect your rights and fight the charges. An attorney will be able to review the evidence against you and determine whether the prosecutor can prove their case or whether the charges should be dismissed.
Adam H Rosenblum is a criminal lawyer admitted to practice in NY and NJ. His website is rosenblumlawfirm.com.