Houston Criminal Defense Attorney

Is Shoplifting the Same as Petty Theft?

Under Texas Penal Code § 31, theft crimes are classified by the nature of the offense and the value of property or services stolen. Shoplifting, for example, is prosecuted as “theft” because it involves the unlawful taking of property without an owner’s consent, either by taking a product from a retailer without paying for it, or by switching price tags to deprive a retailer of money.

Scales & Handcuffs

Depending on factors such as a defendant’s criminal history and the value of property stolen, shoplifting is not always the same as “petty theft,” which is a term used to describe theft crimes involving smaller amounts of stolen property. At The Law Offices of Jed Silverman, our Houston theft crime lawyers have extensive experience handling all types of shoplifting cases, including the most serious allegations. These shoplifting offenses may include:

  • Misdemeanor Theft – Misdemeanor theft is the most common charge prosecuted in cases of shoplifting. These offenses can include Class C, B, and A misdemeanors that are prosecuted in accordance to the value of property stolen. If property was valued at less than $50 dollars, then the crime is considered a Class C misdemeanor. Class B misdemeanors involve theft of property between $50 and $500, and Class A misdemeanors involve theft of property between $500 and $1,500.
  • State Jail Felony Theft – If the value of property stolen is between $1,500 and $20,000, you can be charged with a state jail felony, which carries penalties that include imprisonment in a state jail between 6 months and 2 years, and / or fines up to $10,000.
  • Felony Theft – Felony theft in the first, second, or third degree are the most serious theft charges one can face. While they are not exceedingly common in shoplifting cases due to the value of property stolen, they can be charged in cases where an alleged shoplifter stole multiple times from a retailer, or stole items of significant worth. The value of property stolen for these felony theft offenses can range from $20K - $100K for third degree theft, $100K to $200K for second degree theft, and $200K or more for third degree theft.

It is important to note that your criminal history can play a role in the severity of charges and penalties you face for a shoplifting offense. For example, a prior shoplifting offense of any type can elevate a Class C misdemeanor to a Class B misdemeanor, even is property is valued under $50. Two or more prior convictions can also elevate any theft of less than $1,500 to a state jail felony rather than a misdemeanor offense. Prior convictions can seriously complicate cases and result in more severe penalties. Our legal team can discuss how your criminal history may impact any new shoplifting charges you face.

In addition to fines and possible terms of imprisonment, theft crime convictions can negatively affect your reputation and your ability to find employment. As such, you should take any theft allegation seriously if you or someone you love has been charged, and you should be intent on working with proven attorneys who know how to effectively defend against these allegations and work to secure positive resolutions.

At The Law Offices of Jed Silverman, our award-winning lawyers have earned a reputation for zealously defending the rights and futures of the accused, including those who have be charged with theft crimes. Learn more about how our team may be able to help you by discussing your case during a free consultation. Contact us today to get started.