Retail Theft or Shoplifting

Many retail establishments throughout the greater San Antonio area take a no-tolerance approach to shoplifting. These department stores, grocery stores, and convenient stores will contact law enforcement officer after they catch a shoplifter in the act.

If the merchant has probable cause that you have stolen something, then the merchant can detain you until a law enforcement officer arrives. The retail establishment can enter your information into a database which might make it more difficult for you to find a job. A conviction for shoplifting or retail theft comes with even more devastating consequences that can last a lifetime. 

In addition to charges for shoplifting, you can face additional penalties if you are caught using tools to defeat a theft prevention device. The most serious penalties are reserved for individuals who engage in organized retail theft by working with others to steal items for profit.

Attorney for Retail Theft or Shoplifting in San Antonio, TX

If you were arrested for shoplifting or retail theft in San Antonio or Bexar County, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Flanary Law Firm, PLLC. Don Flanary represents clients charged with retail theft, shoplifting, and using shoplifting instruments.

Don Flanary is experienced in representing clients charged with shoplifting crimes in the following communities New Braunfels, Schertz, Seguin, Boerne, Canyon Lake, Cibolo, Converse, Leon Valley, Live Oak, Timberwood Park, Universal City, Alamo Heights, Fair Oaks Ranch, Floresville, Helotes, Hondo, Kirby, Lackland AFB, Lakehills, Pleasanton, Selma, Terrell Hills and Windcrest.

With offices conveniently located in San Antonio, Don Flanary also represents clients in Bexar County and the surrounding areas of Kendall County, Comal County, Guadalupe County, Wilson County, Atascosa County, Medina County, and Bandera County.


Retail Theft / Shoplifting

In Texas, shoplifting is often called retail theft. Shoplifting usually occurs when a person walking into a store, selects an item, conceals that item, and then attempts to leave the store without paying for the stolen item. Retail theft can also occur when a person tries to return an item that was never purchased or switches tags from a more expensive item to a less expensive item.  

The penalties for shoplifting depend, in part, on the value of the property stolen. Shoplifting in Texas comes with the following penalties:

  • For merchandise valued at less than $50, shoplifting is charged as a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine;
  • For merchandise valued at $50 to $499, shoplifting is charged as a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and $2,000 in fines; 
  • For merchandise valued $500 to $1,499, shoplifting is charged as a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and $4,000 in fines; and
  • For merchandise valued at $1,500 to $19,999, shoplifting is charged as a State jail felony punishable by up to 2 years in state jail and $10,000 in fines.

Elements of Organized Retail Theft

The elements of organized retail theft that must be proven at trial beyond all reasonable doubt include:

  • the defendant intentionally conducts, promotes, or facilitates an activity;
  • through the activity the defendant receives, possesses, conceals, stores, barters, sells or disposes of either of the following:
    • stolen retail merchandise;
    • merchandise explicitly represented to the person as being stolen retail merchandise.

Organized Retail Theft in Texas under Section 31.16 

If you were charged with Organized Retail Theft under Penal Code, Section 31.16, then the following penalties apply: 

  • Class B Misdemeanor (total value of the merchandise involved in the activity is less than $50);
  • Class A Misdemeanor (total value of the merchandise involved in the activity is $50 or more but less than $500);
  • State Jail Felony (value of service stolen is $1,500 or more but less than $20,000);
  • Third-Degree Felony (value of service stolen is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000);
  • Second-Degree Felony (value of service stolen is $100,000 or more but less than $200,000); or 
  • First-Degree Felony (value of service stolen is $200,000 or more). 

The penalties can be increased to the next level of punishment if it is proven that the defendant intentionally, knowingly or recklessly:

  • uses a shielding device;
  • causes a fire alarm to sound; or
  • deactivates a fire alarm. 

The term “shielding or deactivation instrument” means any item or tool designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of preventing the detection of stolen merchandise by a retail theft detector. The term includes a metal-lined or foil-lined shopping bag and any item used to remove a security tag affixed to retail merchandise.

“Fire exit alarm” means a device designed to sound an alarm when a fire exit is opened or an attempt to open a fire exit is made.


Definitions in the Texas Theft Statute

The term "retail merchandise” means one or more items of tangible personal property displayed, held, stored, or offered for sale in a retail establishment.

The term "retail theft detector” means an electrical, mechanical, electronic, or magnetic device used to prevent or detect shoplifting and includes any article of component part essential to the proper operation of the device.


Additional Resources

Shoplifting Laws in Texas - Visit the website of the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) to learn more about the laws prohibiting shoplifting in Texas. Also find the definitions used in the statutes addressing retail theft. NASP is a non-profit organization that educates the public about the harmful effects of shoplifting to unite public opinion on constructive solutions. NASP conducts research and provides technical assistance, training, education, prevention and rehabilitation programs with self-help and support services. NASP recognizes that at any age, shoplifting can be habit forming or addictive and needs to be addressed like other addictive behaviors with appropriate programs and support.


Find a Lawyer for Shoplifting in Bexar County, TX

The criminal justice system considers shoplifting to be a habit-forming activity that a person commits numerous times before eventually getting caught. The criminal justice system attempts to address even a first offense of shoplifting as an addictive behavior that requires participation in appropriate programs and supervision.

If you were charged with shoplifting or committing organized retail theft, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Flanary Law Firm, PLLC. With offices conveniently located in San Antonio, Don Flanary represents clients throughout all of Bexar County and the surrounding counties.

Call (210) 738-8383 today.


This article was last updated on Tuesday, January 3, 2016.

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