A Tennessee appellate court deemed a policy of prosecuting repeat Walmart shoplifters as felony burglars unconstitutional but that isn’t stopping Wilson County from continuing to apply the felony charges for petty thefts while the argument progresses to the State Supreme Court. Lebanon police just charged Shelly Beene with felony burglary for stealing $27 worth of merchandise from Walmart – which could now cost her 2-4 years in state prison.
It’s believed the practice first started in Knox County, but in recent weeks has spread to a few cases in Wilson and Davidson Counties. The prosecutors rely on the fact the defendant has been previously trespassed from a store (doesn’t even have to be the same physical location, any location will do) to change the charge from misdemeanor theft to felony burglary, which carries a 2-4 year prison sentence.
In the case of Shelly Fay Beene, police say she put merchandise in her cart at the Walmart on South Cumberland in Lebanon on October 6th and proceeded to the self-checkout, where she pretended to scan the merchandise, valued at $27.28, then exited the door without paying. Police took her into custody and charged her with both felony burglary theft of merchandise. She was booked into the Wilson County Jail, where she remains in lieu of a $1,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in court on October 15th.