Shoplifting Can’t Be Expunged From Your Criminal Record

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If you plead guilty to shoplifting, your conviction can never be expunged from your criminal record, but an attorney can get it reduced to “Littering.”

Why Can’t A Shoplifting Conviction Be Expunged From Your Criminal Record?

In January 1, 2018, Missouri enacted a new expungement law that allows people to petition the court to expunge (remove) old convictions from their criminal record.

As a result of this new law, many misdemeanors and some felonies are now eligible for expungement that were not eligible in the past. However, shoplifting (stealing) is not eligible for expungement under the new law.

Since shoplifting is not eligible for expungement, your best option is to get the charge dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense, such as “Littering,” which won’t show up on your criminal record.

Missouri statute RSMO 610.140 lists the convictions that are eligible for expungement under the new expungement law.

Why You Should Not Plead Guilty To Shoplifting Or Stealing

Some police officers issue a ticket for shoplifting and incorrectly advise the person that “it’s just a ticket” and they should pay the fine. This information is wrong. If you pay the fine for a shoplifting ticket, that means you are pleading guilty to shoplifting. The conviction will stay on your criminal record forever, and it will never be eligible for expungement.

In addition to having a conviction on your criminal record, you will also have a hard time getting a job, renting an apartment, or getting federal student aid for college if you plead guilty to shoplifting.

What Is The Maximum Punishment For Shoplifting In Missouri

Stealing under $500 is a class A misdemeanor in Missouri, punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and 1 year in jail.

Stealing Under $150 is a class D misdemeanor if you are a first-time offender and is punishable by a maximum fine of $500 but no jail time.

If you have been charged with shoplifting for the 4th time within 10 years, the Prosecuting Attorney must charge you with Felony Stealing, which is a much more serious charge than misdemeanor stealing.

Hire An Attorney To Get Your Shoplifting Ticket Dismissed or Reduced To “Littering”

If you have received a shoplifting ticket, that means you have been charged with committing the crime of stealing. Here are your options:

  • Go to court on your own without an attorney and plead guilty, and the judge will sentence you
  • Go to court and plead not guilty, and the judge will set your case for trial
  • Go to court and ask the judge for a continuance of the court date to give you time to hire an attorney
  • Hire an attorney to represent you and get your shoplifting charge dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense, such as “Littering”

If you hire an attorney, it is very likely that you won’t have to appear in court at all. Your attorney will negotiate a pre-trial plea bargain deal with the Prosecutor to get your shoplifting charge dismissed or reduced to “Littering.”

If your shoplifting charge is reduced to “Littering,” you will have to pay a fine and court costs, but there will be no jail time, and the court will give you at least 30 days to pay the fine and court costs. Many courts offer a payment plan if you request it.

In some cases, the Prosecutor might refuse to reduce your shoplifting charge to “Littering.” This happens in some courts where the prosecutor is very strict, or if you have prior charges for stealing on your criminal record. In those situations, your attorney may be able to convince the Prosecutor to dismiss your shoplifting case if you successfully complete a period of probation.

The outcome of your case depends on many factors, including the following:

  • How old are you?
  • What did you steal? (a bottle of alcohol/baby formula/jewelry)
  • What was the dollar value of the items you stole?
  • Do you have any prior arrests, charges, or convictions for stealing?
  • Which court is your case being prosecuted in?
  • Were you polite and respectful to the police officer?

How Much Does It Cost To Hire An Attorney To Represent You For Shoplifting?

It is more expensive to hire an attorney to get your shoplifting charge reduced to “Littering” than if you just pleaded guilty. However, the long-term costs of having a shoplifting conviction on your criminal record are much worse than the fee to hire a lawyer.

Most criminal defense attorneys offer a free consultation and can give you a flat-fee price quote for how much they will charge to represent you. Your attorney will discuss your case with you and give you an estimate of what kind of results they can get for you.

For more information about the fines and court costs you will have to pay, see my previous blog post, “How To Avoid Jail Time For Shoplifting.”

What Will Happen If You Don’t Pay The $250 Civil Fine For Shoplifting?

When you get caught shoplifting, the store will send you a letter demanding that you pay $250 to reimburse the store for their expenses related to the theft. Experienced attorneys advise their clients to refuse to pay this $250 civil fine.

If you refuse to pay the $250 fine, there will be no negative effect on your criminal case.

The store has to sue you in civil court and win a judgment against you before you owe the store anything. The store knows that most shoplifters will pay the $250 because they are afraid and they think they are legally required to pay.

It is rare for a store to sue a shoplifter who stole items worth less than $500, especially if the items were immediately recovered, because the cost to sue the shoplifter is much more than the $250 the store would get if it wins a judgment against the shoplifter in court.

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For a free consultation about your Missouri shoplifting case, contact St. Louis criminal defense attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or [email protected]

 

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