New Law Strengthens Penalties for Switching Price Tags on Merchandise

By Peek & Toland on August 27, 2019

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.

New Law Strengthens Penalties for Switching Price Tags on Merchandise

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.

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Shoplifting and Texas Law

By Peek & Toland on March 6, 2019

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) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.

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Theft Crimes and Shoplifting in Texas

By Peek & Toland on November 4, 2016

Many people discount the seriousness of shoplifting. We often hear from adults who recount how they stole items from a store when they were children or teenagers. People are often surprised to learn shoplifters can and do get jail time for their crimes in Texas.

In Texas, shoplifting is punished as a theft when you take property unlawfully. It is taken without the consent of the owner and with the intent to deprive the owner of it.

Shoplifting can land you in serious trouble

Shoplifting takes many forms

When we think of shoplifting, we typically think of a thief running from the store with an item or concealing it.

But you can also be charged for shoplifting if you switch the price tag on an item to get it at a lower price. This is also considered to be a theft offense.

Laws and Penalties for Shoplifting in Texas

In Texas, as in other states, the value of the item stolen is related to the likely sentence a shoplifter will receive.

If the item stolen is worth less than $50, it is classified as a Class C misdemeanor and the offender will receive a fine of up to $500 on conviction.

Stealing an item in the $50 to $499 value range is classified as a Class B misdemeanor. You could face up to 180 days in jail and $2,000 in fines.

If you shoplift an item in the $500 to $1,499 price range, it’s classified as a Class A misdemeanor. Conviction will result in a maximum of one year in jail and a fine up to $4,000, on conviction.

Stealing an item or items valued from $1,500 to $19,999 is classified as a state jail felony. You could end up serving up to two years in jail and be fined $10,000.

Laws and Penalties for Shoplifting in Texas

Theft crimes in Texas are almost identical to shoplifting. The main difference is theft does not have to take place at a store. It’s defined as taking something of value from another person, without their permission. If you stole goods from the back of a truck in a parking lot, you would commit theft. Theft charges fall into the same categories in terms of seriousness and jail time or fines. See our pages about theft crimes here.

If you have been charged with a shoplifting or a theft crime, don’t be complacent. These crimes can land you in jail and Texas is tough on shoplifters.

Call our experienced shoplifting and theft defense attorneys at Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 for a consultation.


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