What is shoplifting?
We are used to thinking that shoplifting means stealing some merchandize from a shop. However, it additionally includes other criminal actions, such as having meals at a restaurant without paying or leaving a hotel, all possible machinations with price tags to reduce the price of the item, etc. With low valued items, a shoplifter can get a fine for shoplifting worth 6 penalty units. With more serious offence of stealing, shoplifting penalty can carry a penalty of 5 years in prison or more depending on the place of crime.
Charges for minor shoplifting
In certain cases speaking about shoplifting, we refer to “petty theft” or “fourth-degree theft”. The value of the stolen item is small and you get only a fine. For instance, if you steal a pair of socks, batteries or a Snickers bar. It can be a giant teddy bear as well. Anyway, what matters is the value, not the size. The exact value evaluating shoplifting to a felony varies in different countries and in the USA each state has its own policy. To compare, in Florida the upper limit for minor offence is $100 or and New Jersey – twice higher.
Shoplifting penalties for “petty with a prior”
Shoplifter punishment gets more serious with the stolen item valued at $1,000. It may be charged as a felony if a thief has at least one theft-related conviction or a prior conviction for a violent offence or any registerable offence. Having a record that includes certain prior offenses makes shoplifting punishment more heavy. The sentence for shoplifting can the following: a misdemeanor with duration of up to one year in jail and a felony – from 16 months and up to 3 years of incarceration.
Civil penalties for shoplifting
Civil penalties go in addition to criminal penalties. They include civil fines or other financial payments as a remedy for damages to the store owner. It can be brought by the government, or by a private party acting on behalf of the government. A shoplifter can be civilly liable for the retail value of the merchandise unless the item is returned in sellable condition, damages of the value up to $500 and costs of bringing the case.
Shoplifting starting from the teens
NASP reveals that both men and women shoplift in approximately equal proportion. It is no surprise that about 25% of shoplifters are underage. The law does not consider juveniles to have the same ability to make choices as adults. Shoplifting penalties for them are more intended to teach and correct rather than punish. What concerns adult shoplifters, 55% say they started shoplifting in their teens.
Getting a criminal record
It is not possible in all states to avoid getting a criminal record even for a light shoplifting punishment. It is essential to understand possible consequences. If you are charged with shoplifting, your next step is contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney asap. The existence of a criminal record with your name is another shoplifting sentence. It will influence your life greatly especially when you want to find a new job or get certain professional licenses. Your lawyer may be able to help you to get the charges dropped, reduced or deferred. If this is the first offence, there is a hope for the more positive run of events.