Most associate the act of shoplifting with juvenile delinquents and young adults acting recklessly. However, this is actually a myth pervaded by television. According to the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention, 75 percent of all shoplifters are adults in their late twenties or older. This misconception has caused many people to believe the statutory penalties for shoplifting are light, but this isn’t true either.
Depending on the circumstances, shoplifters could face up to felony charges for their actions. A conviction for shoplifting may very well mean time in prison and huge thousand-dollar fines. Because of this, it’s important you gain legal representation you can trust as soon as possible. Hiring a defense attorney to litigate for you will give you a significant edge in the courtroom.
Houston Shoplifting Defense Attorney
If you’ve been arrested for shoplifting, do not say a word to the authorities until you’ve spoken to The Benken Law Firm. Brian Benken is a dedicated criminal defense attorney with a strong focus on property crimes. With his resources, knowledge and past experience, attorney Benken can begin building a formidable defense for your case.
Do not wait another moment for your freedom. Set up your first consultation free by calling The Benken Law Firm at (713) 223 - 4051. The Benken Law Firm represents those accused of shoplifting throughout the greater Harris County and Houston area including Houston, Westchase, Pasadena, Meyerland, River Oaks, and Alief.
Overview of Shoplifting Charges in Texas
- What Happens If You Get Caught Shoplifting in TX?
- Aggravating Factors in a Shoplifting Case
- Additional Resources
What Happens If You Get Caught Shoplifting in Texas?
The state of Texas doesn’t have a specific statute addressing shoplifting. Instead the crime of shoplifting is grouped under the Texas Penal Code section for theft. Under § 31.03, you’re guilty of shoplifting or theft if you have appropriated property without the owner’s consent. The severity of the penalties for shoplifting depend on the value of the goods stolen.
Shoplifting is a class C misdemeanor if the goods stolen were valued at less than $100. The maximum penalty for a class C misdemeanor is a $500 fine. However, if certain aggravating factors are proven to be true at trial, then the penalties for shoplifting can be enhanced.
A shoplifting offense may be reclassified to a class B misdemeanor if:
- The property stolen was $100 or more, but was less than $750; or
- The stolen goods were less than $100 and the you have a prior theft conviction.
The maximum consequences for a class B misdemeanor include a term of imprisonment of up to 180 days as well as a fine totaling up to $2,000.
If the goods stolen were valued at $750 or more but less than $2,000, then you should expect to face a class A misdemeanor. The maximum sentence a person can receive for a class A misdemeanor is up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
Unfortunately, a shoplifting offense could result in a felony charge if certain facts are proven to be true at trial. In Texas, shoplifting is a felony charge if:
- The stolen goods valued at $2,500 or more, but less than $30,000;
- The stolen good was a firearm;
- The stolen goods value at less than $2,500 and you have a prior theft conviction;
- The stolen goods were less than $20,000 and were made from either aluminum, bronze, copper, or brass.
A state jail felony is punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
If the property stolen was valued at $30,000 or more but less than $150,000, then the crime will be reclassified as a third-degree felony. The maximum sentence for a third-degree felony is up to 10 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.
Shoplifting property that is valued at $150,000, but less than $300,000, will lead to third-degree felony charges. The maximum penalty for a second-degree felony is up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
A shoplifting offense can be charged as a first-degree felony if the property stolen was worth $300,000 or more. A first-degree felony’s maximum sentence is 99 years or life imprisonment, as well as a $10,000 fine.
Aggravating Factors for Shoplifting Offenses in Texas
The stolen property’s value isn’t the only factor weighed when deciding a sentence for a shoplifting conviction. There are other aggravating factors that, if proven at trial, will automatically result in your offense being reclassified to a higher offense class. For example, if you were originally charged with a class B misdemeanor but an aggravating factor was proven in court, then your charges will be reclassified to a class A misdemeanor.
The following are aggravating factors listed under Texas law that could enhance your penalties.
- You were a public servant and were able to shoplift because of your status as a public servant;
- The retail owner was an elderly individual and you took advantage of that;
- The retail establishment you stole from was a nonprofit organization;
- During the offense, you knowingly caused a fire alarm to sound;
- During the offense, you knowingly prevented a fire alarm or retail theft detector from sounding; or
- You utilized a deactivation or shielding instrument during the commission of the offense
ORC Loss Prevention | Shoplifting – Visit the official website for the Texas Retailers Association, a representation of large companies and retail professionals in the state of Texas. Find more information about organized retail crime (ORC) and how professional shoplifting deprives retailers close to $37 billion a year.
Texas Theft Laws – Visit the official website for Texas state laws and legislation to find more information about theft crimes. Gain access to Texas statutes to read more on theft, grand theft, petit theft, organized retail theft, and cargo theft.
Attorney for Shoplifting Charges in Harris County, Texas
Many are under the false misconception that shoplifting is a minor crime. In reality, some shoplifters are face felony charges and are sentenced to prison. Having experienced and skilled legal representation secured is the first step to protecting your rights and freedom. For an experienced criminal defense attorney call The Benken Law Firm. Brian Benken has 30 years of experience he can draw from on both the prosecutorial and defense side.
Don’t make the mistake of underestimating your criminal charges. Set up your first case review by calling The Benken Law Firm at (713) 223 - 4051. From there, we will analyze your case and discuss what legal options are best for you. The Benken Law Firm accepts clients throughout all parts of Harris County and every region in the great state of Texas.