There is a tendency for most people to shrug off a charge of shoplifting as a minor offense. In many cases the perpetrators do get off with a slap on the wrist if they are minors (about 38% are teenagers), they’re first offense, or the value of the item is less than $50. But make no mistake; shoplifting is a crime and punishable under the law, and in Texas it is taken quite seriously. There are real consequences when you are convicted, and it would be a shame to get a mark on your record for a childish prank.
There are many reasons why people shoplift. In the case of teenagers, it is usually for the thrill of it and a way to show how “cool” they are and ready to flaunt convention and authority. That’s all well and good provided they don’t get caught, and this can be feat indeed. With billions lost to shoplifters, retailers invest in the best surveillance they can get. Some shoplift out of sheer necessity borne out by desperation, while still others make a career out of it.
As pointed out on the website of Inglis Defense, shoplifting penalties in Texas if convicted range from a Class C misdemeanor (value less than $50, $500 fine) to state jail felony (value between $1,500 and $19,999, 2 years in jail plus fines). The value of the item/s is toted up to determine the charge and concomitant sentence, so you could be paying $500 for that $5 keychain if the shop owner presses charges. Worse, you could spend a year in jail plus pay up to $4,000 in fines for that cashmere sweater. They just don’t make it worth it to shoplift in Texas.
However, there are ways to beat a shoplifting charge, especially if you have a competent criminal defense attorney to help you. Without legal representation, there is a good chance that you will say or do something that will lead to a conviction, even if you hadn’t even been shoplifting in the first place!