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Facing Shoplifting Penalties

Shoplifting is a term typically used to describe the theft of goods from a retail store of some kind. When most people think of shoplifting, they think of a relatively minor offense. However, depending on the value of property allegedly stolen, a defendant may face misdemeanor or felony charges.

If you or someone you know was recently arrested or accused of shoplifting, now is the time to talk to an attorney about your rights and legal options. Just because you were arrested, this does not mean that you are guilty or should be found guilty. You will need to act quickly to ensure you have the best opportunity of avoiding a conviction.

What is shoplifting?

There is no specific crime called "shoplifting" in Texas Penal Code, but this offense is covered under PC Section 31.03 "Theft". If may be defined as unlawfully taking another's property with the intent of depriving the owner of said property, without the owner's consent or knowledge.

Following are the potential classifications of a shoplifting offense:

  • Class B Misdemeanor (punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000) - theft of property valued at $50 to less than $500. This is the most frequent result of a shoplifting arrest.
  • Class A Misdemeanor (punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000) - theft of property valued at $500 to less than $1,500.

If a person is accused of taking property valued at $1,500 or more or is accused of stealing certain types of property, such as a firearm, from a store, he or she may face felony charges and more severe penalties. Enhanced penalties may also apply if the defendant has a prior theft-related conviction on his or her record.

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