With the rise of self checkout systems, more and more people feel tempted to shoplift. After all, with no one there to ring you up, it's easy to imagine getting away with ringing an item up incorrectly or even just not paying for something in your basket or cart. However, regardless of the retail environment, shoplifting in any form is still theft, and that means it's a crime in Tennessee.
Charges vary according to the age of the person accused and the amount of items allegedly stolen or concealed. Many people don't realize this, but you can end up charged with a shoplifting offense without ever actually leaving a store. If you may soon face shoplifting charges, you need to educate yourself about the risks and potential consequences.
Shoplifting means more than putting something in your pocket
Many people assume that shoplifting refers to the practice of hiding an item without the intention of paying for it. That is certainly one of the more common forms of shoplifting. People hide items in their pockets, inside their clothing, in a purse or even inside other items they intend to purchase. Some people will actually walk out of the store with a cart or basket full of merchandise. If someone sees you hiding an item, that could be grounds for potential shoplifting charges, even if you never steal it.
However, any action intended to deprive the retailer of the full value of an item is shoplifting. For example, switching price tags between an item and something much cheaper is a form of shoplifting. Similarly, inputting the wrong information or otherwise deceiving the register or cashier may also be shoplifting.
The penalties in Tennessee can become quite steep
The value of the items shoplifted will determine the charges and potential consequences involved in a shoplifting offense. For items worth less than $1000, the potential charge is a Class A misdemeanor which carries up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
For items with a value of between $1000 to $2500, the charge increases to a Class E felony, punishable by between one and six years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000. For items worth between $2500 and $10,000, the charge increases to a Class D felony, which carries between two and 12 years in jail and a fine of as much as $5,000.
A theft conviction can have a dramatic impact on your future. Even if you avoid jail, you could lose your job and find a hard time getting a new one with a criminal record. Mistakes do happen, so you should carefully consider your options before accepting a guilty plea related to shoplifting charges.