A Shoplifting Ticket Can Be Dismissed or Reduced To a Less Serious OffensePosted on
An attorney can get your shoplifting ticket dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense so you won’t have a shoplifting conviction on your criminal record.
What To Do If You Get Caught Shoplifting
If you get caught shoplifting items worth less than $500, that’s considered misdemeanor stealing. The police officer might arrest you, or they might just issue a ticket for Shoplifting and let you go. You can go to court and represent yourself (not recommended) or you can hire an attorney to represent you.
In many cases, your attorney can get your Shoplifting ticket dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense with no jail time or court appearance required.
The outcome of your case depends on many factors, such as:
- Which court is your case being prosecuted in? (2 days’ jail time is mandatory in some courts.)
- Your age (The younger you are, the more lenient the judge might be.)
- Your criminal history (If you have multiple prior convictions for stealing, the Prosecutor might not offer a plea bargain deal.)
- Your behavior toward the police officer or security guard at the store (Were you polite, or did you run away from the security guard?)
- The value of the item you stole (Someone who stole a $10 item may be treated differently than someone who stole $400 worth of items.)
- What did you steal? (Stealing baby formula or a pregnancy test may be treated differently from stealing a bottle of alcohol.)
How Much Does It Cost To Get Rid Of A Shoplifting Ticket?
The cost to keep a Shoplifting charge off your criminal record is more expensive than paying the fine and pleading guilty.
With an attorney representing you, there is a very good chance that your Shoplifting ticket will be dismissed completely or reduced to a less serious offense, such as “Littering.”
Most criminal defense attorneys offer a free consultation and a flat-fee price quote for legal representation. Your attorney will discuss your case with you and give you an estimate of the outcome.
In addition to the cost of hiring an attorney for your Shoplifting charge, you may have to pay a fine and court costs, do community service, complete the “Theft Offender” class, and/or pay a supervision fee if you have to serve time on probation.
In many Shoplifting cases, the attorney can take care of everything without the defendant being required to appear in court.
You Can Go To Jail For Shoplifting Under $500
The maximum penalty for class A misdemeanor Shoplifting (under $500) is 1 year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Stealing Under $150 is a class D misdemeanor if you are a first-time offender. There is no jail time for Stealing Under $150, but the judge can sentence you to pay a maximum fine of $500, and you will end up with a shoplifting conviction on your criminal record.
What Is A “Civil Demand” For Shoplifting?
If you have been charged with Shoplifting, the store may send a “Civil Demand” letter to you, stating that you owe them $250.
Missouri law allows stores to sue shoplifters in civil court for up to $250 to reimburse the store for their expenses. However, most stores don’t sue shoplifters because the cost of suing is much higher than the amount the store could win in court.
PLEASE NOTE: You don’t owe the store anything unless they successfully sue you in civil court and win a judgment against you. Then the store will have to garnish your paycheck or your bank account to collect on the judgment, which is impossible unless they know your bank account number or your place of employment.
Most experienced criminal defense attorneys advise their Shoplifting clients to ignore Civil Demand letters.
Whether or not you pay the civil demand will have no effect on your criminal Shoplifting case.
A Shoplifting Conviction Can Not Be Expunged From Your Criminal Record
Many people charged with Shoplifting plead guilty because it’s cheaper than hiring an attorney. However, the long-term consequences of a guilty plea can cost you a lot more than what the attorney charges to represent you.
Having a conviction for Shoplifting on your criminal record can prevent you from being hired for a job, renting an apartment, or getting federal student aid for college.
Starting January 1, 2018, Missouri’s new expungement law will allow people to petition the court for expungement (removal) of many misdemeanor convictions that previously were not allowed to be expunged. Unfortunately, Shoplifting/Stealing convictions will still not be eligible for expungement under Missouri’s new expungement law.
If you have been charged with Shoplifting or Stealing in Missouri, contact St. Louis Shoplifting lawyer Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or [email protected] for a free consultation.
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