Tex. Pen. Code § 31.03, which is the code section that generally contains all consolidated theft offenses, encompasses the criminal offense of shoplifting. Theft occurs when individuals “unlawfully appropriate property with intent to deprive the owner of property.” The appropriation of property is unlawful if it is:
• Without the owner’s consent
• Stolen and the actor knows that it is stolen, or
• In the custody of a law enforcement agency, a law enforcement agent has represented it as stolen, and the actor reasonably believes that it is stolen
Given this broad definition of theft, all types of shoplifting fall within it. Theft includes not only taking merchandise from a store without paying for it, but also switching price tags on items in order to pay a lower price, and concealing items on your person or in your purse. You may be charged with theft even if you never left the store with the merchandise. If you had the intent to remove the items from the store without paying for them, then you may face shoplifting charges. Even if you were simply watching to make sure that your friend didn’t get caught shoplifting, and didn’t take any action to steal an item, you still could face charges under code section dealing with theft.
Shoplifting and Texas Law
The level of charges that you will face for shoplifting largely depend on the value and type of the items stolen and whether you have previous theft convictions. For instance, if the property involves items with a value of under $100, the charge is a Class C misdemeanor, whose only penalty is a maximum $500 fine.
However, shoplifting charges are a Class B misdemeanor in any of the following cases:
• The value of the property involved is more than $100, but less than $750,
• The value of the property involved is less than $100, but the individual has a previous theft conviction, or
• The property involved is a driver’s license or personal ID card issued by Texas or any other state
Conviction on a Class B misdemeanor can result in up to 180 days in jail and $2,000 in fines, or both.
It is not as common for a shoplifting offense to involve high-dollar items. If this does occur, both the level of the charges and the penalties increase as the value of the items increases.
The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 399-2311 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.