Are Shoplifting and Petty Theft the Same Thing?

A person putting a stolen item into their back pocket inside a store.

The Fine Line Between Petty Theft and Shoplifting

The distinction between shoplifting and petty theft can be confusing. Petty theft generally refers to a lesser shoplifting offense in which the value of the allegedly stolen property is $50 or less. The charges brought, however, generally hinge upon the value of the property that is alleged to have been stolen, the nature of the alleged offense, and whether the person accused has a prior record of theft. The distinction between petty theft and shoplifting, in other words, can be quite fine. (What do you do if you are accused of shoplifting? Click here to learn more)

Misdemeanor Theft

Misdemeanor theft is the most common type of shoplifting charge prosecuted in Texas, and this offense is divided into three distinct classifications that include:

  • Class C Misdemeanor Theft – If the value of the property alleged to have been stolen is less than $50, the charge is a Class C misdemeanor, which is also known as petty theft. The fine associated with a Class C conviction is limited to $500 (with no jail time). (Learn more about the serious consequences of a misdemeanor)

  • Class B Misdemeanor Theft – If the value of the property involved is over $50 but is less than $500 – or if the property alleged to have been stolen is a driver’s license or another form of official identification – the charge is Class B misdemeanor theft. A conviction of Class B misdemeanor theft is a fine that does not exceed $2,000 and/or a jail term of not more than 180 days.

  • Class A Misdemeanor Theft – A Class A misdemeanor theft charge involves property that is valued between $500 and $1,500, and such a crime comes with a fine that does not exceed $4,000 and/or a jail term of up to 1 year.

Prior Convictions Can Affect Your Case

If you have a prior conviction on your record for any class of misdemeanor theft, it can affect your current charges. If you have been convicted of Misdemeanor theft in the past, a Class C charge will become a Class B charge. If you have two or more convictions of any class of misdemeanor theft on your record, any theft charge involving property or services valued at less than $1,500 (Class A charge) will be raised to a state jail felony theft charge.

Your Charges

Theft charges are complicated, and a conviction can affect your job opportunities, your reputation, and more. If you have been accused of theft of any kind, it is far too important to leave to chance. Protect your rights and your future by obtaining the professional legal counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

If You Have Been Accused of Shoplifting, You Need an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Lawyer on Your Side

Shoplifting charges are serious charges and should never be discounted. Killeen criminal defense attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard has the experience, commitment, and knowledge to help guide your case toward its best possible resolution. Mr. Pritchard has the experience, knowledge, and skill to help you. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at (254) 220-4225 today. We serve those in Bell County and throughout Texas.


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