What is Considered a Shoplifting Offense in Tennessee?
Shoplifting is a “theft of property” offense in Tennessee. Under the Tennessee Code, a person commits theft of property if, with intent to deprive the owner of property, the person knowingly obtains or exercises control over the property without the owner's effective consent.
Sentencing for shoplifting depends on the value of the merchandise that was allegedly stolen. If the value of the property was $500 or less, the crime is classified as a Class A misdemeanor. This means that, if convicted, you could be facing up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Theft of property for merchandise valued over $500 is a felony and carries much stiffer penalties.
To be convicted of shoplifting, however, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. Thus, in addition to the other elements of the crime, the state must prove that you intended to deprive the owner of merchandise. Under this requirement, a person is not guilty of shoplifting if he or she accidentally walked out of the store with merchandise. To deprive means to withhold property from the owner permanently or for such a period of time as to substantially diminish the value or enjoyment of the property to the owner. Accordingly, the state will likely need more evidence than the fact that you were caught with store merchandise.
While facing criminal charges for shoplifting can be a frightening and intimidating experience, you need to know that you are innocent until proven guilty. What this means is that it is the state’s initial responsibility to come forth with sufficient evidence to charge and convict you of a theft crime. The mere accusation of shoplifting is not enough.
At Baker Associates, our shoplifting defense attorneys understand that you are in a difficult situation. And, with offices in Sevierville near Pigeon Forge and Knoxville, we can provide you with valuable advice that can help you reach a favorable outcome. Our criminal defense attorneys in TN also know that the stakes are high—too high to risk representing yourself or simply pleading guilty without thinking through the consequences.
Whatever the circumstances of your case, we will work aggressively to protect your rights. Indeed, our theft crimes attorneys have helped a number of people in Tennessee charged with shoplifting crimes and can help you too. Call today to set up an initial consultation at 866-853-2888.