Shoplifting Charges in Texas

Learn about the laws, penalties and civil consequences of a shoplifting charge in Texas. Find out if you can avoid a conviction and criminal record.

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Shoplifting in Texas is a crime with serious penalties, including potential fines and jail time. In addition to facing criminal penalties, shoplifters can be sued by merchants in civil court to recover damages.

Shoplifting Laws in Texas

Shoplifting is punished as theft in Texas. Theft is defined as taking property unlawfully, such as without the owner’s consent, and with the intent to deprive the owner. Examples of theft include taking items from stores without paying, altering price tags to avoid the full retail price, and writing bad checks for merchandise. The penalties for theft increase with the value of the stolen goods and with the number prior offenses. Criminal and civil penalties for shoplifting are described below.

Texas Theft Criminal Penalties

Charge

Classification

Penalty

Theft of property valued at less than $50

Class C misdemeanor

Fines up to $500

Theft of property valued at $50 or more and less than $500

Class B misdemeanor

Jail time up to 180 days and/or a fine up to $2,000

Theft of property valued at less than $50 if the offender has a previous theft conviction

Class B misdemeanor

Jail time up to 180 days and/or a fine up to $2,000

Theft of property valued at $500 or more and less than $1,500

Class A misdemeanor

Jail time up to one year and/or a fine up to $4,000

Theft of property valued at $1,500 or more and less than $20,000, or theft of a firearm

State jail felony

Jail time between 180 days and 2 years in a state penitentiary and fines up to $10,000

Theft of property valued at $20,000 or more and less than $100,000

Third degree felony

Jail time between 2-10 years and fines up to $10,000

Theft of property valued at $100,000 or more and less than $200,000

Second degree felony

Jail time between 2-20 years and fines up to $10,000

Theft of property valued at over $200,000

First degree Felony

Jail time between 5-99 years and  fines up to $10,000

Civil Liability

Adult shoplifters can be sued by the merchants they victimized for actual damages, plus additional damages up to $1,000. Parents or guardians who have a duty of control and discipline over a child shoplifter can be sued for actual damages up to $5,000.

Pretrial Diversion Programs and Plea Bargaining

Some Texas counties provide pretrial diversion programs, which allow certain individuals accused of first-time and low-level crimes to avoid criminal prosecution. Diversion programs typically require completion of a probationary period and other court-mandated requirements, such as restitution, community service, and counseling. Upon successful completion of the requirements, the criminal charges will be dropped.

If diversion programs are not available, the accused may be able to arrange a plea bargain with the prosecutor assigned to the case. The prosecutor may be willing to reduce the charges or the sentence, in exchange for a plea of guilty.

Learn more about diversion and pretrial options.

Getting Legal Help

If you have been accused of shoplifting in Texas, you should strongly consider contacting an experienced criminal defense lawyer. A qualified defense attorney can help you explore your options, such as pursuing pretrial diversion programs, raising defenses, and negotiating a plea bargain, in order to minimize the consequences of a shoplifting charge.

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