There was a time when teenagers almost looked at shoplifting from the local drug store as a right of passage. If they were caught, as was usually the case, the more serious consequences came from home, not from the law. Those days are long past. Today, both retailers and the law view shoplifting much more seriously than they once did. In fact, as a Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer explains, a defendant can now face serious judicial and non-judicial consequences for a shoplifting conviction in Tennessee.
Tennessee Shoplifting Laws
Like many states, Tennessee does not have a separate “shoplifting” law. Instead, shoplifting falls under the broader category of “theft” under Tennessee law. Tennessee Code § 39-14-105 governs the theft of property or services. Under that statute, the potential punishment a defendant faces if convicted is directly related to the value of the property or services that were stolen. As such, the theft of property or services is:
- A Class A misdemeanor if the value of the property or services obtained is five hundred dollars ($500) or less. The potential penalty if convicted is up to 11 months and 29 days in jail.
- A Class E felony if the value of the property or services obtained is more than five hundred dollars ($500) but less than one thousand dollars ($1,000). The potential penalty if convicted is one to six years in prison.
- A Class D felony if the value of the property or services obtained is one thousand dollars ($1,000) or more but less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000). The potential penalty if convicted is two to 12 years in prison.
- A Class C felony if the value of the property or services obtained is ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or more but less than sixty thousand dollars ($60,000). The potential penalty if convicted is three to 15 years in prison.
- A Class B felony if the value of the property or services obtained is sixty thousand dollars ($60,000) or more but less than two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000). The potential penalty if convicted is eight to 30 years in prison.
- A Class A felony if the value of the property or services obtained is two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) or more. The potential penalty if convicted is 15 to 60 years in prison.
In addition, Tennessee Code § 39-14-105(b)(1) allows the State to charge multiple criminal acts committed against one or more victims as a single count if the criminal acts arise from a common scheme, purpose, intent or enterprise. § 39-14-105(b)(2) also allows the monetary value of property from multiple criminal acts which are charged in a single count of theft of property to be aggregated to establish value. What that means is that if you shoplifted five items from a store on separate occasions, the State could charge all five acts of theft together and combine the value of all five items when making the charging decision. If each item was valued at $250, the charges you face could be elevated from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class D felony.
Non-Judicial Penalties for Shoplifting
Keep in mind that, along with the judicial sentence handed down by the judge, you also face non-judicial penalties for a shoplifting conviction. In today’s society, even the local fast food restaurant will likely run a criminal background check on you if you apply for a job as will potential landlords and even your child’s school if you want to volunteer. Theft convictions are often an immediate disqualifier for all of those things. For that reason alone, you should always talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney before considering a guilty plea agreement for what you see is a minor conviction.
Contact a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you were recently arrested for shoplifting in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.
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