Shoplifting or retail fraud manifests in many different forms. The most obvious is a grab-and-dash scenario. People go into a store, pick up items and then promptly leave without paying. Other times, people employ more sophisticated methods of shoplifting to reduce the chance of getting caught.
For example, the rise of self-checkout lanes has led to many people attempting to alter or swap the price labels or barcodes on products. People could take the price sticker off of a low-cost pair of shoes and place it over the barcode for a pair that costs three times as much. Some people even print their own stickers to trick the registers at retail shops.
Although many people think that there is no harm in such practices because the party they steal from is a big business and they pay a portion of the price for the item, the truth is that price tag swapping is a form of fraud recognized under Texas state law. Those caught swapping tags could face arrest and prosecution.
The charges can be quite significant
A variety of factors influence how severe a price tag-swapping crime would be. Under Texas law, such offenses are a form of fraud. The law refers to price tag swapping as the fraudulent destruction, removal or concealment of writing.
The value of the products and the method someone uses to swap the tags will determine the possible penalties. Charges range from class A misdemeanor offenses to State Jail felonies. Generally speaking, the value of the merchandise involved is one of the most important considerations for prosecutors when deciding what charges to pursue. Once the difference in value of the assets involved reaches $2,500, the charges brought could be felony charges.
The penalties possible will depend on a judge’s view of the situation and other factors, including the value of the merchandise. There are ways to defend against allegations of fraudulent removal of writing in Texas. Someone might be able to establish, possibly due to fingerprints, that they were not the party to remove or replace the price tag. There might even be security camera footage that could help exonerate someone.
Fighting back against retail fraud charges may be the only way to eliminate the risk of incurring penalties that a judge might impose after a guilty plea or a conviction. As a result, seeking legal guidance as soon as possible after an arrest is very important.