Shoplifting is a type of Theft that can carry serious consequences if convicted. If you are facing these charges, whether it is because someone wrongly accused you or you just had a temporary lapse in judgment, you are entitled to a criminal defense attorney who is going to fight for your rights.
When representing yourself in such a case, pleading guilty can seem like a good idea because it could potentially help you avoid jail time. However, it could also be one of the worst things you could do. Even if you are guilty, there are sometimes ways to keep the Shoplifting offense off of your record. Having a shoplifting conviction on your record can affect you for the rest of your life. It can prevent you from gaining employment, qualifying for loans, leasing an apartment or obtaining a professional license.
That’s why it’s important to have a knowledgeable and dedicated attorney in your corner. At Ascheman & Smith, our attorneys will explain the case and your rights, and will work diligently on your behalf to ensure you receive the best possible outcome in your case.
What is Shoplifting?
Shoplifting occurs when a person intentionally takes something of value from a business without paying for it. The person can either take the item from the actual store, a vehicle owned by the store or premises that are under the store’s control.
Depending on the seriousness of the offense and the value of the item(s), Shoplifting can be constituted as a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony.
If caught in the act, what can happen?
If you are caught in the act of Shoplifting at a store or are wrongfully accused of Shoplifting while in a store, the store has specific rules for how it needs to handle the situation. A store owner or one of his or her employees may detain a person if they have reasonable cause to believe that someone has taken something of value from their store without paying for it. They may require the person to provide identification, take back the stolen merchandise (if there is any), call the police and press charges.
A person should not be detained for more than one hour unless the store owner is waiting for the police to show up to arrest the person or the person is a minor and the store owner is waiting for his or her parents to show up.
The person being detained has rights, however. If he or she requests that the police be called at any time, the store owner must comply with this request immediately. Also, you have the right to remain silent during this process. Even if you didn’t do it, anything you say can and will be used against you. It’s important to keep quiet and call an attorney right away.
What are the consequences if convicted?
Shoplifting carries the same consequences as Theft and like Theft, the consequences vary depending on the level of offense. The level of offense is often based on two things: 1) The value of the property or services stolen; and 2) whether the Shoplifting involved a weapon, vehicle explosive or other dangerous item.
A conviction carries a maximum sentence of 90 days imprisonment and/or a fine of no more than $1,000 if the stolen property:
- Was valued at less than $500.
A conviction carries a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment and/or a fine of no more than $3,000 if the stolen property:
- Was valued between $500 and $1,000.
A conviction carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and/or a fine of no more than $10,000 if the stolen property:
- Was valued between $1,000 and $5,000;
- Was valued between $500 and $1,000 and the convicted person had been convicted of this offense or a similar offense within the past five years; or
- Was a motor vehicle.
A conviction carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of no more than $20,000 if the stolen property:
- Was valued at more than $5,000; or
- Was an explosive
A conviction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine of no more than $100,000 if the stolen property:
- Was a firearm; or
- Was valued at more than $35,000.
What to do:
If you or someone you love has been accused of Shoplifting, it is important to seek help right away. At Ascheman & Smith, we are here to help you understand the system, protect your rights, explain your options and explain the ramifications that each option brings with it. Call us today at 612-217-0077. You’ll be glad you did!