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Shoplifting Charges in Texas — Penalties and Potential Defenses

Shoplifting, often considered a minor offense, can have serious consequences in Texas. Understanding how Texas law defines and penalizes shoplifting can help you avoid a criminal record and its lasting repercussions.

Texas law punishes shoplifting as a type of theft, based on the value of the stolen property. The offense classifications and penalties range as follows: 

  • Class C Misdemeanor — For property valued at less than $100, the maximum penalty is a fine of up to $500. 
  • Class B Misdemeanor — If the stolen goods are worth $100 or more but less than $750, shoplifting carries a potential fine of up to $2,000 and 180 days in jail. Shoplifting goods under $100 becomes a Class B misdemeanor if you have a prior theft conviction. 
  • Class A Misdemeanor — Stealing property valued between $750 and $2,500 can draw a $4,000 fine and 180 days in jail. Possessing, manufacturing or distributing devices used to deactivate electronic security tags is also a Class A misdemeanor.
  • State Jail Felony — Shoplifting items valued between $2,500 and $30,000 carries a potential sentence of up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Having two or more prior theft convictions and stealing property under $2,500 also qualifies as a state jail felony.
  • Felony Charges —The severity of the felony charge increases with the value of the stolen property: third-degree if between $30,000 and $150,000, second-degree if $150,000 to $300,000 and first-degree if exceeding $300,000 in value.

The potential consequences of being charged with shoplifting are significant. A shoplifting conviction, no matter how minor, remains on your permanent record and cannot be expunged. A criminal record can affect your employment opportunities, housing options and even professional licenses. This is why you should not plead guilty, even for a minor shoplifting offense. 

Being arrested and charged with shoplifting is stressful and intimidating. Nevertheless, defenses to the charges may be possible, such as the following: 

  • Faulty self-checkout machines or equipment — A malfunctioning scanner may have failed to ring up an item or a security tag may not have been deactivated.
  • Lack of intent to steal — If you were scanning multiple items and simply forgot one, you can argue the absence of criminal intent.
  • Open carry — If the item was openly carried without any attempt to conceal it, it may indicate no intention to shoplift.
  • Accidental concealment — It’s possible an item became unintentionally concealed within a shopping bag or carried goods. 
  • Mistaken identity — Misidentification by store security or security cameras can lead to false charges.

If you are facing shoplifting charges, an experienced shoplifting defense attorney can raise the strongest defenses possible and/or work towards an alternative disposition of charges that can be eligible for expunction. 

The legal team at Tylden Shaeffer, Attorney at Law, P.C. in San Antonio has extensive experience representing individuals facing shoplifting and other theft charges throughout Central Texas. Call us today at (210) 227-1500 or contact us online for a confidential consultation.

 

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