Texas law includes shoplifting as a form of theft, with many of the same charges and penalties that would apply to a regular theft case. Under Tex. Pen. Code § 31.03, you commit theft if you unlawfully appropriate property without the consent of its owner, with the intent to deprive the owner of the possession or use of the property. This code section contains comprehensive, detailed language that encompasses all aspects of shoplifting. This offense can include not only removing merchandise from a store but also changing price tags to pay a lower price for an item or concealing merchandise in a purse or bag while still in the store.
This section provides for increasingly harsher charges as the value of the stolen or shoplifted items rises. In most cases, shoplifting is confined to misdemeanor offenses. For example, if the stolen property has a value of less than $100, the crime is a Class C misdemeanor, which carries the potential for a $500 fine and no jail time. Shoplifting rises to the level of a Class B misdemeanor if:
- The property is worth more than $100 but less than $750
- The property is worth less than $100, but you have a previous theft conviction
- The property consists of a driver’s license or personal identification card issued by the state of Texas or any other state
A conviction for a Class B misdemeanor offense can result in a jail sentence of 180 days and a fine of $2,000, or both. The most serious of the misdemeanor offenses is Class A misdemeanor theft, which can cause a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of $4,000. Class A misdemeanor charges can result when the merchandise is worth more than $750 but less than $2,500.
An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case and explore your options. We then can help you make the decisions that are mostly like to be beneficial to you, based on your situation. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.