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Is There a Difference Between Shoplifting and Robbery?

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Is There a Difference Between Shoplifting and Robbery?

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Larceny is the taking of another individual’s property without consent and with the intent to permanently deprive them of the property. Larceny describes a lot of property crimes in Texas like shoplifting and burglary. However, the larceny definition is the only thing the two crimes have in common. Both have different elements and punishments. Elements are what Texas prosecutors use to charge someone with a crime and try to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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What is Shoplifting?

The general definition of shoplifting involves stealing from a retailer or business. In some states the crime involves taking an item from a store, altering a price tag or concealing an item. In Texas, shoplifting has the same legal definition as theft.

Shoplifting is the unlawful appropriation of property done with the intent to deprive the property’s owner. To appropriate means to take the property. To unlawfully take property means the owner did give permission to obtain the item or items. According to Texas theft law, when a person unlawfully appropriates they do one or more of the following:

  • Takes property without consent of the owner
  • Takes property already stolen by someone else. The person who takes the stolen property knows it was stolen by another individual. This element is similar to buying stolen goods.
  • Takes property in the possession of law enforcement. For example, a person takes a stolen item from a police officer to prevent their friend from being charged of shoplifting.
To Deprive an Owner of Property is Different than Unlawful Appropriation

Once a person allegedly takes property without permission, they then must have intent to permanently deprive the owner of the item. The general meaning of deprive involves not giving the property back to the owner. In Texas, there are different ways a person can deprive an owner of property and be accused of shoplifting. The person can:

  • Withhold property from the owner or keep it for an extended period of time and cause the owner to lose enjoyment of the item
  • Require payment or another type of compensation to return the property to the owner
  • Destroy the property or get rid of it in such a way that the owner can’t recover it
Isn’t Consent a Defense?

Yes. Consent is a defense, but not having consent is an element of shoplifting. To have consent means the owner legally gives the accused the right to take the property from the store. Prosecutors have to prove the accused didn’t have the right to obtain or keep the property.

Texas Shoplifting Punishment

Criminal punishment for shoplifting depends on the value of the property taken:

  • Less than $50: a $500 fine
  • From $51 to $499: 180 days and a $2,000 fine
  • From $500 to $1,499: one year in jail and $4,000 fine
  • From $1,500 to $19,999: two years in state jail and $10,000 fine

What is Robbery?

Robbery is defined as taking property from another without consent and with the intent to permanently deprive. Robbery involves the threat or actual force or violence when taking property from another person. Texas has a more specific robbery definition. Each definition depends on the type of robbery a person is accused of committing.

Robbery is the intent to maintain control or obtain control of property while knowingly, intentionally or recklessly causing another individual bodily injury. It’s also considered robbery when someone knowingly or intentionally threatens or places an individual in fear of immediate bodily injury or death. Bodily injury means to cause some type of physical harm to the alleged victim like a wound or broken bone.

Aggravated robbery is a more serious crime because it involves the above definition along with:

  • Causing serious bodily injury to an individual
  • Showing or using a deadly weapon
  • Placing person older than 65 years old or a disabled individual in fear of immediate bodily injury or death

Sometimes aggravated robbery is called armed robbery.

Texas Robbery Punishment

Robbery and aggravated robbery involve prison time as punishment. Robbery is a second degree felony. A person convicted of robbery may spend up to 20 years in prison. Aggravated robbery is the harsher of the two crimes. A person convicted of aggravated robbery may spend up to 99 years in prison. Both robbery crimes have an additional penalty of a $10,000 fine.

Consult The Law Office of Greg Tsioros for legal help»

Main Difference between Shoplifting and Robbery

  1. Shoplifting doesn’t have a punishment of prison time
  2. Shoplifting involves taking an item without violence or threat of violence
  3. Robbery requires actual violence or the threat of violence
  4. Robbery can happen anywhere. For example, a robbery can happen in a store, sidewalk or concert.

Shoplifting and robbery are serious charges. They result in incarceration and fines. The Law Office of Greg Tsioros understands the anxiety and fear you face because of your criminal charge. This is why we are with you every step of the way. We go over the facts of the case with you, build a strong defense and work hard to get your charge dropped or reduced. We also keep you informed about all stages of your proceedings. Contact Houston sex crime attorney Greg Tsioros at (832) 752-5972 for an initial case evaluation.

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