Governor Greg Abbott recently signed HB 427 into law, which will become effective on September 1, 2019. This law attempts to equalize the penalties for price tag switching of merchandise to those for shoplifting. Price tag switching is a means that individuals may use to pay less than the retail value of the merchandise that they are purchasing. By placing a tag with a lower price on an item before purchasing it, individuals may try to pay a lower price for it. The rising incidence of self-checkouts that go relatively unmonitored can make price tag switching a more successful and lucrative scheme. Like shoplifting, this practice causes a loss to the business owner.
Before the passage of this law, the penalty scheme for price tag switching did not take the value of the property lost to the business owner into account. Under the new law, penalties will depend upon the difference in cost between the actual retail price and the price that the individuals attempted to pay for the item through price tag switching.
Charges for price tag switching now can range from a Class C misdemeanor to a first-degree felony offense depending on the difference between the price marked and the price paid. For a difference that is less than $100, the crime is a Class C misdemeanor, which carries the potential for a $500 fine, but no arrest or jail time. For the offense to become a first-degree felony, however, the price differential must be $300,000 or more. Although it is far more likely that price tag switching occurs during the shoplifting of relatively inexpensive items, some may use the scheme at higher price points, as well.
The Peek & Toland criminal defense lawyers are here to represent your interests and advise you of the best course of action in your criminal case. Set up an appointment to talk to us today and discover how we can assist you with your criminal defense issue.