How Serious Is Shoplifting?

As the winter Holidays approach, merchants and shopping malls become more vigilant in trying to deter shoplifters. It is important to understand that, although a misdemeanor, shoplifting is a serious offense that may prevent one from attending a school of their choice, or obtaining their dream job. It is a misconception that shoplifting simply means stealing an item from a store or shopping mall. The offense includes other conduct of which shoppers need to be aware. A person may be charged with shoplifting if he or she takes part in any one of the five actions listed below.

In Tennessee, a person may be convicted of the crime of Shoplifting if the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the person, with the intent to deprive a merchant of the stated price of merchandise, knowingly:

1) Conceals the merchandise; or

2) Removes, takes possession of, or causes the removal of merchandise; or

3) Alters, transfers or removes any price marking, or any other marking which aids in determining value affixed to the merchandise; or

4) Transfers the merchandise from one (1) container to another; or

5) Causes the cash register or other sales recording device to reflect less than the merchant’s stated price for the merchandise.

Unlike the crime of theft, to be guilty of shoplifting, the prosecution is not required to prove that the defendant obtained or exercised control over the merchandise.

[Source: Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-14-146]

The Penalties

Tennessee law specifies that penalties for a shoplifting conviction are the same as those for theft. Accordingly, the penalty is dependent upon the value of the property obtained and increases as the value of the property increases.

If you find yourself charged with the offense of shoplifting, you should speak to the criminal defense lawyers at Oberman & Rice as soon as possible. Investigating a case as soon as possible after the arrest greatly increases the chance of a successful outcome. We are committed to representing clients with unparalleled attention and communication. We are available for emergency consultation after regular working hours. Call the criminal defense lawyers at Oberman & Rice at (865) 249-7200 or email us at 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.