How serious are shoplifting charges?

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2018 | criminal defense

1 out of 11 Americans are shoplifters — that’s about 27 million people. According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP), over 10 million people have been caught shoplifting in the US within the last five years.

With habitual shoplifters stealing an average of at least once per week, it’s no surprise. But, what exactly happens when you’re caught shoplifting? The severity of the penalties for this crime depends on a few factors.

Your age

Shoplifting is a crime common among minors. Those who are caught shoplifting while under the age of 18 will be penalized accordingly through the juvenile system. Example repercussions could include being released to his or her parents, fined restitution, assigned probation or/and ordered to complete community service.

Those who are found shoplifting at the age of 18 years or older will face judgment through the criminal justice system. These repercussions will be greater and longer lasting. However, the exact penalties depend on the value of the merchandise stolen.

The value of the merchandise

The value of the goods stolen constitutes the punishment a defendant over the age of 18 will face. For property worth less than $100, a defendant will face a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500.

Stolen merchandise that is worth at least $100, but under $750 dollars results in Class B misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to 180 days of jail time and a fine up to $2,000.

If an individual has stolen items that are valued at $750 or up to $2,499, he or she can face up a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. If the items that were stolen exceed $2,499, the defendant may face a state jail felony. Penalties are heightened as the value of the merchandise increases.

Repeat offenses

Whether you are under or over the age of 18, if you have previous counts of shoplifting, penalties will be heightened.

For example, an individual who steals something worth less than $100 may still face jail time under a Class B misdemeanor if he or she has been caught stealing before.

A misdemeanor is a lasting penalty

A misdemeanor offense leaves a stain on an individual’s criminal record. The discovery of shoplifting charges through a background check could deny an individual housing, education and job opportunities.

If you or someone you know is charged with shoplifting, talk to an attorney immediately to discuss your options for negotiating a better outcome for your future.