Shoplifting or theft may seem like a harmless crime, but the consequences of a shoplifting or theft conviction in Texas are serious and can haunt you for the rest of your life. Shoplifting can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony and the classification and penalties faced are usually based on the value of what was allegedly taken, whether force was used and the alleged offender's criminal history.
Austin Shoplifting Lawyer
Having a shoplifting defense lawyer to help you navigate through the process associated with your theft arrest can make an essential difference in the outcome of your case. To discuss your alleged theft crime in full detail, please contact The Law Office of Kevin Bennett at (512) 476-4626.
The Law Office of Kevin Bennett represents clients in Travis County, including Austin, West Lake Hills, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley and Lakeway.
Information on Texas Shoplifting Penalties
- What is Shoplifting?
- Penalties for Shoplifting in Texas
- Texas Theft Law
- Austin Retail Theft Offenses
- Austin Theft Crimes and Shoplifting Civil Penalties
Shoplifting is generally defined as the theft of goods or property from a store, retailer or merchant. Theft is generally defined as the intentional and unlawful taking of another person's property without that person's consent. Retail theft or shoplifting generally occur at large department stores or grocery stores.
Shoplifting is a theft charge that is considered a crime of "moral turpitude," meaning that it is a crime that reflects on one's character. A shoplifting arrest or theft conviction can seriously limit employment opportunities, as employers do not want to employ someone that they cannot trust or that may steal from their business. It is important to understand that even a ticket or citation for theft or shoplifting can carry the stigma of being labeled as a criminal.
In Texas, the penalties or punishment for shoplifting usually depend on the value of the items that were allegedly taken and whether the defendant has any prior theft convictions. Under The Texas Penal Code, shoplifting offenses can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony crime.
Below is a basic guide of how the State of Texas categorizes the level of the shoplifting offense and the punishment you face if charged with retail theft.
- Shoplifting is considered a Class C Misdemeanor if the value of the property stolen is worth $100 or less. Class C Misdemeanor crimes are punishable by a fine up to $500.
- Shoplifting is considered a Class B Misdemeanor if the value of the property stolen is more than $100 but less than $750. Class B Misdemeanor crimes are punishable by a fine up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $2,000.
- Shoplifting is considered a Class A Misdemeanor if the value of the property stolen is $750 or more but less than $2,500. Class A Misdemeanor crimes are punishable by a up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $4,000.
- Shoplifting is considered a State Jail Felony if the value of the property stolen is $2,500 or more but less than $30,000. A State Jail Felony is punishable by 180 days to two years in state jail and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- Shoplifting is considered a Third Degree Felony if the value of the property stolen is $30,000 or more but less than $150,000. A Third Degree Felony is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and/or up to a fine up to $10,000.
- Shoplifting is considered a Second Degree Felony if the value of the property stolen is $150,000 or more but less than $300,000. A Second Degree Felony is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- Shoplifting is considered a First Degree Felony if the value of the property stolen is more than $300,000. A First Degree Felony is punishable by five to 99 years in prison or life imprisonment and/or up to a fine up to $10,000.
If you are charged with shoplifting and accused of taking more than one item, the value all the items can be added together or aggregated to determine the level of charge and penalties you face.
If you have been arrested or charged with shoplifting in Austin, Texas, contact an experienced theft crimes attorney at The Law Office of Kevin Bennett to discuss your options. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can protect your interests and advise you how best to proceed.
Theft: Penal Code Sec. 31.03
(a) A person commits an offense if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property.
(b) Appropriation of property is unlawful if:
- it is without the owner's effective consent;
- the property is stolen and the actor appropriates the property knowing it was stolen by another; or
- property in the custody of any law enforcement agency was explicitly represented by any law enforcement agent to the actor as being stolen and the actor appropriates the property believing it was stolen by another.
Under Texas Penal Code § 31.03, an individual can be charged with retail theft or shoplifting if they intentionally and unlawfully take the property from a store, retailer or merchant, with the intent to deprive the store or retailer of the property without their consent. In Austin, retail theft or shoplifting frequently occur at large department stores or merchants, such as Nordstrom’s, Dillard’s, Macy’s, Wal-Mart, Target, T.J. Maxx, and Kohl’s.
Unfortunately, many people believe that shoplifting or retail theft is a petty crime that they can handle themselves, especially if they are young or have no prior criminal history. This choice leaves a defendant vulnerable to harsh life-altering consequences. Too often we see individuals that deeply regret their prior decision to represent themselves, as they unknowingly made a decision in their case that left them with a permanent criminal record.
In addition to the criminal penalties such as fines, community service or jail time, the Texas Theft Liability Act allows anyone who is a victim of a theft offense to sue the alleged shoplifter for civil damages. According to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 134.005, anyone who is a victim of a theft offense can recover the amount stolen, punitive damages up to $1,000, court costs and reasonable attorneys fees from the individual who allegedly committed a theft offense against them. If the accused shoplifter is a minor, Texas law allows the retailer to sue the minor’s parents in the amount of up to $5,000.
It is routine for department stores and large retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target, to send an accused shoplifter a demand letter for payment or threaten to sue the shoplifter for civil damages if they do not respond with the requested payment amount.
If you or a loved one have been arrested or charged with shoplifting in Austin, it is crucial that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney before you make a decision that could haunt you the rest of your life.
Kevin Bennett | Austin Shoplifting Defense Attorney
If convicted of a shoplifting or theft, you can face serious jail or prison time, significant fines, restitution, community service, embarrassment and a serious blemish on your permanent criminal record. Kevin Bennett is an experienced Austin theft crimes lawyer who understands the importance of avoiding a shoplifting or theft conviction and will work hard to see that your case is given the attention needed. Contact The Law Office of Kevin Bennett at (512) 476-4626 for a consultation in your shoplifting or retail theft case in Austin, Texas or Travis County.
Mr. Bennett can also advise you as to how to seal or expunge your criminal record whenever eligible.