The penalty for shoplifting varies by state, but the crime is usually punishable by a fine, jail time or a combination of both, according to Layers.com. The severity of the punishment is at the discretion of the judge hearing the case.
In most states, shoplifting is classified as a theft or larceny, and may be classified into different degrees depending on the value of the stolen item, explains Criminal Defense Lawyer. Generally speaking, the more valuable the merchandise, the more serious the criminal charge. While the crime is generally punishable by criminal fine or jail, in some cases it is punishable by a civil fine to reimburse the owner of the stolen merchandise for damages resulting from the theft.