Shoplifting, also known as retail theft, is a crime in Tennessee. Depending on the total value of items stolen, a person can face misdemeanor charges for shoplifting items worth $1,000 or less, or as high as a Class A felony for theft worth $250,000 or more.
However, there are two cases when a shoplifting offense leads to upgraded sentences.
Multiple shoplifting offenses
By state law, if a person is convicted of their fifth or subsequent shoplifting offense within two years, they’ll be punished one crime classification higher than what they’d normally face.
For instance, a person charged with stealing items worth $1,000 or less for the fifth time faces a Class E felony instead of a Class A misdemeanor. A Class E felony conviction leads to as much as $3,000 in fines and up to six years in prison.
On the highest end of the spectrum, a person who commits their fifth shoplifting offense for items worth more than $250,000 faces a capital crime charge instead of a Class A felony. A capital crime conviction leads to life imprisonment.
Another way a person’s shoplifting offense can be upgraded is if the merchandise they stole is a firearm. The lowest criminal charge possible for firearm theft is a Class E felony, even if the gun is worth less than $1,000. In addition to any penalties a convicted person would have to serve, firearm theft also carries an additional punishment of up to 180 days of confinement, which the person must serve in addition to other prison sentences.
No matter the total amount of items stolen or the circumstances around the theft, shoplifting is an offense that carries severe penalties. Convicted persons can consult with a legal professional to better understand their court options, especially when faced with the possibility of upgraded sentences.