Even first-time shoplifters will face criminal charges

Many teens and young adults may get accused of shoplifting from one of San Antonio’s many retail stores. While not shoplifting in the strictest sense, other young people may face accusations of not paying for gasoline before driving off or skipping out on paying after eating a restaurant.

In Texas, police and prosecutors will not treat such matters as youthful mistakes or stupid pranks that, so long as the person involved makes it right, are of little consequence. Instead, they will file criminal charges of theft against shoplifters and other alleged thieves, even if the amount taken is small.

In Texas, a person who shoplifts less than $100 worth of property will face a misdemeanor offense. Being convicted of stealing up to $2,500 remains a misdemeanor so long as it is a person’s first offense, although jail time and fines are a possibility.

Moreover, the theft conviction will appear on the person’s record, which may in turn make it more difficult to find a job, get into college and the like.

Those who have prior convictions for theft, even if they are older convictions, face more serious charges. Someone with two or more prior convictions will likely face a felony charge on the third occasion, even if the amount involved is relatively small, less than $2,500.

Taking property worth more than $2,500 will result in a felony charge, even if it is a first offense.

While many young people do get caught shoplifting and are able to move on with their lives, such charges still should be taken seriously.

Moreover, as with any other type of crime, oftentimes police and prosecutors are mistaken about what happened or don’t fully appreciate the circumstances. Legal and constitutional defenses to theft charges may be available in certain cases.