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Shoplifting is one of the most common crimes in Texas. Although these theft crimes do not involve violence, they can land offenders in jail. The seriousness of the sentence depends on the value of the goods stolen.
If you are charged with a shoplifting crime you should not be dismissive and think you don’t need a criminal defense lawyer.
Texas law defines shoplifting as the taking of property that does not belong to you without consent, either by deceit, fraud or the physical act of stealing it. Many people think you must have left the store to be charged with shoplifting. This is not the case. Any behavior that shows you were intending to deprive the store owner of the value of the product can constitute a shoplifting charge.
Shoplifting takes many forms. Although we may think of a thief running from a store, switching a price tag on an item can constitute shoplifting in Texas.
Texas has a fairly rigid scale for shoplifters linked to the value of the item that’s taken. As a rule of thumb, the greater monetary value the stolen item has, the heavier the penalty will be. If you steal multiple items from a store, the combined value of the items would be used to calculate the value.
The following are the penalties for shoplifting based on a first-time offender. In most cases, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. However, if you have prior convictions you may face a higher sentence. If violence was used in the crime or a threat, it would likely be elevated to a more serious crime like robbery.
If you steal an item that’s worth less than $50, the offense is classified as a Class C misdemeanor. The offender will face a fine of up to $500 on conviction.
If you take an items or items in the $50 to $499 value range, the shoplifting crime is as a Class B misdemeanor punishable with up to 180 days in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.
Stealing an item in the $500 to $1,499 range falls under the Class A misdemeanor classification. A conviction can land you in jail for up to a year paying a fine of up to $4,000.
Shoplifting becomes a state jail felony when the item or items that are taken are worth $1,500 to $19,999. You could spend up to two years in jail and be fined $10,000.
We are often asked about the difference between shoplifting and other theft crimes. The sentencing pattern is very similar. However, a theft crime can take place at a premises that’s not a store. For example, if you take an item from a gas station store, you will have committed a shoplifting offense.
If you pick up something from the back of a truck in the parking lot, you commit a theft crime. These offenses don’t involve breaking into premises which are charged as burglaries.
You can read more about theft crimes here on our website. If you have been charged with shoplifting, don’t make the mistake of assuming it’s no big deal. These crimes will harm you if they appear on your record. There are many defenses to shoplifting. A store worker may have been overzealous. You may not have realized you had an item on you. Call us today for aggressive representation at (682) 204-4066.