What constitutes shoplifting?

| Jan 27, 2021 | Uncategorized |

The criminal code in Texas takes a dim view of theft. That said, the law does recognize the different severity levels associated with theft. Breaking into a home and removing $10,000 worth of merchandise might draw a harsher rebuke than walking out of a store with a $10 item. Regardless, shoplifting remains a crime, and a conviction may lead to a permanent criminal record. What is the “in-store” definition of shoplifting, though?

Shoplifting from a store explained

Shoplifting involves hiding or taking possession of merchandise that is up for sale without any intention to pay. Failure to intend to pay for the item(s) deprives the owner. The legal definition of shoplifting reveals crucial facts about crime. Anyone who thinks “they didn’t steal anything” because they never left the store won’t likely find that defense workable.

An intent to leave the store must be present, but physically leaving the store isn’t necessary to face charges. And other instances could lead to shoplifting charges. Switching price tags to pay $15 for $30 shoes might result in a shoplifting arrest.

Shoplifting penalties and defenses

Not all shoplifting charges are the same, and Texas law allows prosecutors to charge a shoplifting crime as a misdemeanor or felony. The property’s value factors into how severe the charges are. Shoplifting charges in Texas could range from a class C misdemeanor or a felony in the first degree. Persons convicted of a class C misdemeanor face a fine. Other misdemeanors present fines and possible jail time. Felonies could bring lengthy prison sentences.

Defendants might face additional charges after being arrested for shoplifting. Resisting arrest, possession of a controlled substance, weapons charges and more could result.

Not everyone commits the crime they are accused of. If a person did not conceal anything and did intend to pay, it would seem that shoplifting never occurred. Someone who didn’t switch price tags and had no idea what the real price was also did nothing wrong.

Under Texas criminal law, shoplifting involves concealing merchandise and not intending to pay. A defense attorney could examine the charges to see if they have merit.