How To Get Your Shoplifting Ticket Dismissed Or Reduced To “Littering”

shoplifting ticket dismissed

Get your shoplifting ticket dismissed or reduced to “Littering” and avoid having a conviction for stealing on your permanent criminal record.

Penalties For Shoplifting in Missouri

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

Stealing Under $150 is a class D misdemeanor if you are a first-time offender. The maximum penalty is a $500 fine but no jail time.

Stealing items valued at $500 or more is a felony and is a much more serious crime, with worse penalties.

For more information, click here to read my previous blog post, “What Is The Penalty For Shoplifting In Missouri.”

Don’t Plead Guilty To Shoplifting

No experienced criminal defense attorney would advise their client to plead guilty to shoplifting or stealing because:

  • A conviction for shoplifting stays on your criminal record forever
  • A shoplifting conviction is NOT eligible for expungement from your criminal record under Missouri’s new expungement law
  • Having a conviction for shoplifting or stealing on your criminal record may prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, or obtaining federal student aid for college

Why Should You Hire An Attorney For Your Shoplifting Ticket?

If you want to get your shoplifting ticket dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense such as “Littering,” you will need to have an experienced attorney represent you in court.

It is very likely that you won’t have to appear in court if you hire an attorney to represent you for your shoplifting ticket.

How To Find Out If You Can Get A Public Defender To Represent You For Your Shoplifting Ticket

In most counties in Missouri, public defenders don’t represent people charged with misdemeanor shoplifting.

However, if your case is being prosecuted in circuit court (rather than municipal court) and you have no income or assets, you might qualify for a public defender.

You can contact the public defender’s office in the county in which your case is being prosecuted to see if you qualify to have a public defender represent you.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire An Attorney To Get Your Shoplifting Ticket Dismissed or Reduced To “Littering”?

Most criminal defense attorneys offer a free consultation for a shoplifting ticket. They can give you a flat-fee price quote for how much they will charge to represent you, and an estimate of any fines and court costs you may have to pay.

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

Most people who get caught shoplifting will later receive a “Civil Demand” letter in the mail from the store. The letter will state that you owe the store $250 to pay for their expenses. However, you don’t owe the store anything unless they successfully sue you in civil court.

If you consult an experienced criminal defense attorney, they will tell you to refuse to pay the Civil Demand.

The Civil Demand is completely separate from your criminal shoplifting case. If you pay the Civil Demand, it will have no effect on your criminal case. The prosecutor and judge in criminal court will not view your criminal case more favorably if you pay the Civil Demand.

Stores rarely follow through on their threats to sue shoplifters because the cost to litigate the case in court is much more than the $250 they would get if they win a judgment against the shoplifter.

I discussed this topic in a previous blog post, “Should You Pay A Shoplifting Civil Demand Fine?”

What To Do If You Already Pleaded Guilty To Shoplifting

If you have already pleaded guilty to shoplifting, you may still be able to withdraw your guilty plea and hire an attorney to get your shoplifting ticket dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense, such as “Littering.”

Withdrawing your guilty plea is something you will need to hire an attorney to do for you — you can’t just go to court and tell the judge you changed your mind.

It is possible to withdraw your plea if:

  • You were not represented by an attorney when you pleaded guilty, and
  • Not much time has passed since your guilty plea

For more information about withdrawing a guilty plea, read my blog post, “Withdraw Your Guilty Plea To Remove A Conviction From Your Record.”

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

Should You Pay A Shoplifting Civil Demand Fine?

shoplifting civil demand

Stores send “civil demand” letters to shoplifters to scare them into paying a $250 fine, but shoplifters don’t owe the store anything unless the store successfully sues and wins a judgment against them in civil court.

What Is A Shoplifting Civil Demand Fine?

If you get caught shoplifting, the store’s attorney will send a “Civil Demand” letter to you. The letter will cite the Missouri civil shoplifting law that allows stores to sue shoplifters and will demand that you pay the store $250 to reimburse it for expenses related to the theft, or else they will sue you in civil court.

If you refuse to pay the $250 shoplifting civil demand, the store’s attorney will continue to mail civil demand letters to you, with the amount of the demand increasing with each letter.

In some situations, the store’s security guard may demand that you pay the $250 immediately, before you leave the store. Security guards and store personnel can be very threatening and may say you can’t leave unless you pay immediately. (This is risky behavior by the security guard because you could sue the store for false imprisonment.)

Many stores call the police to have you arrested for shoplifting and then send the $250 shoplifting civil demand letter to you later.

Should You Pay The $250 Shoplifting Civil Demand Fine To The Store?

Paying the $250 civil demand fine has no effect on your criminal shoplifting case.

Many people pay the $250 civil demand fine because they fear being sued in civil court. They also may think paying the civil demand will help their criminal shoplifting case, but it has no effect. The civil shoplifting case is totally separate from the criminal shoplifting case.

So, if you refuse to pay the $250 civil demand, the Prosecutor in your criminal shoplifting case will never know about it. Your refusal to pay the civil demand will not affect the Prosecutor’s decision regarding whether to dismiss or reduce your shoplifting charge to “Littering.”

PLEASE NOTE: It is illegal for the store to threaten criminal prosecution if you refuse to pay the $250 shoplifting civil demand.

Can You Be Sued By The Store For Shoplifting?

Yes, a store can sue you in civil court for shoplifting. This is a separate legal case from the criminal charge of shoplifting.

Will The Store Sue You For Shoplifting?

A store can sue a shoplifter in civil court and could possibly win a judgment against you for their actual damages, a penalty of up to $250, plus court costs and reasonable attorney fees.

However, unless you were caught stealing a $10,000 purse from Nieman Marcus, it is highly unlikely that a store will sue you for misdemeanor shoplifting under $500.

Why Won’t The Store Sue You For Shoplifting?

A store can legally sue a shoplifter, but they rarely do because it costs them much more to sue than they would gain if they won the lawsuit.

Therefore, most experienced attorneys advise their clients to ignore a store’s “civil demand” letter.

Even if you pay the $250 shoplifting civil demand fine, the store can still call the police and file criminal charges against you for shoplifting.

What Happens If A Store Sues You For Shoplifting?

If a store sues you in civil court for shoplifting and wins a judgment against you, the store must then collect on the judgment if you don’t voluntarily pay.

The store’s attorney can attempt to collect the debt by garnishing your paycheck or bank account. However, the store can’t garnish your paycheck or bank account unless it knows where you work or has your bank account number.

How Long Can The Store Hold A Shoplifter?

Security guards and other store employees can use “reasonable force” to detain a suspected shoplifter “in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable length of time” while the store manager determines whether the person actually stole anything, and to allow time for the police to arrive.

A Shoplifter Can Sue A Store for False Imprisonment, Assault, and Battery

If the store’s security guard or other store employee holds a suspected shoplifter for too long or uses unreasonable force, the shoplifter can sue the store for assault, battery, and false imprisonment.

The Maximum Punishment For Shoplifting in Missouri Is 1 Year in Jail and a $1,000 Fine

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.

Stealing items valued at $500 or more is a felony and is a much more serious crime, with worse penalties.

For more information, click here to read my previous blog post, “How To Avoid Jail Time For Shoplifting.”

A Shoplifting Conviction Stays On Your Criminal Record Forever

If you plead guilty or are convicted of shoplifting, stealing, or petty larceny, that conviction will show up on your criminal record forever. Convictions for shoplifting can NOT be expunged from your criminal record.

Having a conviction for shoplifting can prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, getting a loan from a bank, and obtaining federal student loans.

An Attorney Can Get Your Shoplifting Ticket Dismissed Or Reduced To “Littering”

Instead of pleading guilty, you can hire an attorney to get your shoplifting charge dismissed or reduced to “Littering.”

In most shoplifting cases, your attorney can take care of everything with no court appearance required.

If your shoplifting ticket gets amended to “Littering,” you will have to pay a fine and court costs. Most courts will give you at least 30 days to pay, or you can ask for a longer payment plan.

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

Shoplifting Can’t Be Expunged From Your Criminal Record

shoplifting civil demand

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]

 

What To Do If You Get Caught Shoplifting

shoplifting civil demand

You can hire an attorney to get your Missouri Shoplifting case dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense, such as “Littering.”

What Is the Maximum Punishment For Shoplifting Under $500

Stealing Under $500 is a class A misdemeanor in Missouri.

The maximum penalty for class A misdemeanor Stealing Under $500 is:

  • 1 year in jail
  • $1,000 fine
  • Conviction for Stealing on your permanent criminal record

No Jail Time For Shoplifting Under $150

Stealing Under $150 is a class D misdemeanor if you have no prior convictions.

The maximum penalty for class D misdemeanor Stealing Under $150 is:

  • No Jail Time (for first-time offenders)
  • $500 fine
  • Conviction for Stealing on your permanent criminal record

Shoplifting Convictions Stay On Your Criminal Record Forever

You will have a misdemeanor conviction for Stealing on your permanent criminal record if you plead guilty to any of the following criminal offenses:

  • Stealing Under $150
  • Stealing Under $500
  • Shoplifting
  • Petty Theft
  • Petty Larceny

Having a conviction for Stealing, Shoplifting, Petty Theft, or Petty Larceny on your criminal record can prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, or getting federal student aid for college. Having a misdemeanor conviction can also cause you to lose your government subsidized housing.

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

Missouri’s new expungement law takes effect on January 1, 2018 and will let people request the removal of misdemeanor convictions from their criminal record.

Unfortunately, convictions for Stealing are not eligible for expungement under the new law.

Consult An Attorney If You Have Been Charged With Shoplifting

Since expungement of Shoplifting convictions is not allowed, it is very important to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with Shoplifting, Stealing, Petty Theft, or Petty Larceny.

Some defendants plead guilty to Shoplifting because they can’t afford to hire an attorney, they don’t know how an attorney can help them, or they don’t realize the long-term consequences of pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.

What Can An Attorney Do About Your Shoplifting Ticket?

An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to get your Shoplifting charge dismissed completely or reduced to a less serious offense, such as “Littering.”

The outcome of your case depends on many factors, such as:

  • Which court is your case being prosecuted in?
  • How old are you?
  • Do you have any prior arrests, charges, or convictions on your criminal record?
  • How did you behave toward the police officer or security guard in the store?
  • What did you steal?
  • What was the price of the item you stole?

Most criminal defense attorneys offer a free consultation and can give you a flat-fee price quote for legal representation. They can also give you an estimate of the outcome of your case, including the amount of any fines or court costs you have to pay.

Do You Have To Pay The $250 Civil Fine For Shoplifting?

If you get caught Stealing, the store security guard will call the police and you will be charged with Shoplifting, Stealing, Petty Theft, or Petty Larceny. The police officer may arrest you and take you to jail, or they may just give you a ticket for Shoplifting and let you go.

In addition to being charged criminally for Stealing, the store will also send you a “Civil Demand” letter from their lawyer. The Shoplifting Civil Demand Letter will state that you owe the store $250 to reimburse them for their expenses.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys advise their clients to refuse to pay the Civil Fine.

It is legal for stores to sue shoplifters in civil court for $250 for their costs related to the theft. However, you don’t owe the store anything unless they successfully sue you in civil court and win a judgment against you.

Stores rarely follow through on their threat to sue because the cost to file the lawsuit is much more than the $250 they would get if they win a judgment against you.

 

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If you need help with your Missouri shoplifting case, contact St. Louis criminal defense attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or [email protected] for a free consultation.

 

A Shoplifting Ticket Can Be Dismissed or Reduced To a Less Serious Offense

shoplifting ticket

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.

Stealing Under $150 – No Jail Time For First-Time Offenders

Stealing Under $150

Stealing Under $150 in Missouri is a class D misdemeanor for first-time offenders, punishable by a fine of $500 but no jail time.

Shoplifting Laws & Punishment

According to Missouri shoplifting law, stealing items valued at under $500 is a class A misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

As of January 1, 2017, a new law went into effect in Missouri that made a first-time offense of Stealing Under $150 worth of items a class D misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $500 but no jail time.

If you have been charged with Stealing Under $150 and you have prior theft-related convictions, you will NOT be considered a first-time offender, and the maximum penalty will be 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Stealing items valued at $500 or more is felony stealing, which has much more serious penalties than misdemeanor Stealing Under $500.

PLEASE NOTE:  If you are found guilty of Stealing Under $500 on three separate occasions within 10 years of your current stealing or shoplifting charge, the Prosecutor can charge you with class E felony stealing.

What Happens If You Plead Guilty to Stealing Under $150?

Some people choose to plead guilty to Stealing Under $150 because all they have to do is go to court and pay the fine, with no possibility of jail time if they are first-time offenders.

Unfortunately, many people don’t realize the long-term effects of pleading guilty. If you are a first-time offender and you plead guilty to Stealing Under $150, you won’t do any jail time, but you will still end up with a conviction for stealing on your permanent criminal record.

Having a theft-related conviction on your criminal record can prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, or obtaining federal student loans for college.

What Happens If You Plead Guilty to Stealing Under $500?

If you plead guilty to Stealing Under $500, the judge can sentence you to 1 year in jail and a fine of $1,000 and you will have a conviction for stealing on your criminal record.

Jail Time is Possible If You Are Charged With Stealing

Most shoplifting defendants who hire an experienced attorney to represent them do not serve any time in jail. However, jail time is a possibility in the following situations:

  • You have several prior theft-related convictions.
  • You try to represent yourself in court without an attorney’s assistance.
  • Your case is being prosecuted in a court in which the judge refuses to allow a plea bargain deal for a shoplifting charge. (Some judges require a mandatory 2 days in jail for shoplifting)

An Attorney Can Get Your Shoplifting Charge Dismissed or Reduced To a Lesser Offense

You can take your shoplifting case to trial, but trials are expensive and you risk being convicted.

Instead of going to trial, you can hire an attorney to negotiate a pre-trial plea bargain deal with the Prosecutor to get your shoplifting charge dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense, such as “Littering.” You will have to pay a fine and court costs, but there will be no jail time, and it is very likely that you won’t have to appear in court.

If the Prosecutor won’t agree to reduce the charge to “Littering,” they might instead agree to dismiss the case after a period of probation.

Your attorney can give you an estimate of the most likely outcome of your case, which depends on these factors:

  • How old are you?
  • What did you steal? (a bottle of alcohol/baby formula/clothes for yourself)
  • What was the dollar value of the items that you stole?
  • Do you have any prior theft-related arrests, charges, or convictions?
  • Which court is your case being prosecuted in?
  • How did you behave toward the police officer or security guard?

Before hiring an attorney, call around and speak with a few attorneys until you find one you feel comfortable with. Most criminal defense attorneys will give you a free consultation over the phone and can give you a flat-fee price quote for how much they will charge to represent you, and an estimate of the fines and court costs you will have to pay.

Should You Pay The $250 Civil Penalty For Shoplifting?

Stores can legally sue shoplifters for a maximum of $250 to reimburse the store for its damages.

Here’s how it works:  If you get caught shoplifting, the store’s attorney will send you a letter stating that you owe the store $250. This is called a “civil demand” or a “civil penalty” letter.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys advise their clients to refuse to pay this $250 civil penalty for shoplifting.

The only way you would owe $250 to the store is if the store successfully sues you in civil court and wins a judgment against you. Most stores don’t sue shoplifters because it costs the store much more than $250 to sue you and collect on the judgment.

The civil court case is a separate case from your criminal shoplifting case. Whether or not you pay the $250 civil penalty for shoplifting will make no difference in the outcome of your criminal case.

 


If you need help with a ticket for shoplifting or stealing, call St. Louis criminal defense attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or email her at [email protected] for a free consultation and a flat-fee price quote for legal representation.

Avoid a Shoplifting Conviction On Your Criminal Record

shoplifting ticket

Hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to avoid having a shoplifting conviction on your criminal record.

Don’t Plead Guilty to Shoplifting 

If you go to court on your own without an attorney and plead guilty to shoplifting, you will end up with a conviction for stealing that will show up on your permanent criminal record.

Having a stealing conviction on your criminal record will prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, obtaining a bank loan, or getting federal student aid for college.

Why You Should Hire An Attorney To Help With Your Stealing Charge

An experienced attorney who has represented a lot of Missouri defendants charged with stealing can give you the best estimate of the most likely outcome of your case.

In some cases, it may be in your best interest to plead not guilty and take your case to trial, while in other situations, your best option may be to have your attorney negotiate a plea bargain deal with the Prosecutor.

Discuss your case with an experienced attorney before deciding what to do. Most criminal defense attorneys will offer a free consultation and give you an estimate of the outcome of your case, along with a flat-fee price quote for how much they will charge to represent you.

Here are some possible outcomes for defendants who are represented by an experienced shoplifting attorney for their Missouri misdemeanor shoplifting charge:

  • The charge is dismissed after defendant completes the “Theft Offender” class and pays court costs, or
  • The charge is dismissed after defendant completes a few hours of community service and pays court costs, or
  • The charge is reduced to a lesser offense, such as “Littering,” after defendant pays a fine and court costs, or
  • The charge is dismissed after defendant completes a period of probation and pays court costs but is not required to pay a fine

What Is The Punishment for Shoplifting or Stealing Under $500 in Missouri?

The maximum sentence for shoplifting in Missouri is 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Misdemeanor shoplifting is sometimes charged as “Stealing Under $500,” “Petty Larceny,” or “Petty Theft.”

The Prosecutor may charge you with “Misdemeanor Stealing” for stealing items valued under $500.

The Prosecutor may charge you with “Felony Stealing” for stealing items valued at $500 or more.

PLEASE NOTE:  If you have are charged with misdemeanor stealing 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.

Jail Time Is a Possibility for Misdemeanor Shoplifting in Missouri

As noted above, the maximum penalty in Missouri for misdemeanor shoplifting is 1 year in jail. However, a 1-year jail sentence for shoplifting is not likely unless you have multiple prior stealing convictions and you don’t have an experienced attorney representing you.

WARNING:  In some Missouri courts, the Prosecutor will not dismiss or reduce shoplifting charges to a lesser offense, even if the defendant has no prior convictions and is represented by an attorney. If your case is in a court in which the Prosecutor does not dismiss or amend shoplifting charges, your attorney will have to negotiate directly with the judge for a reduction in jail time.

No Jail Time for Stealing Under $150

A new law took effect in Missouri on January 1, 2017 stating that the maximum penalty for first-time offenders accused of misdemeanor “Stealing Under $150” is a $500 fine but no jail time.

See my previous blog post “No Jail Time For Stealing Under $150” for more information about this new Missouri shoplifting law.

Should You Pay the “Civil Demand” If You Are Caught Shoplifting?

After being arrested for shoplifting, the store where you were caught stealing will send you a “Civil Demand” letter, stating that you owe the store $250 to reimburse them for their expenses.

Most experienced attorneys advise their clients to refuse to pay the civil demand. Whether or not you pay the civil demand will have no effect on your criminal shoplifting case.

You don’t owe the store anything unless the store sues you and wins a judgment against you in civil court. Most stores don’t sue shoplifters who steal items valued under $500 because a lawsuit costs the store more than the judgment is worth, and because it is time-consuming for the store to collect on a judgment.

See my previous blog post “What To Do If You Are Charged With Shoplifting” for more information about “Civil Demand” letters.


Call St. Louis shoplifting attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or email Andrea at [email protected] for a free consultation about your case. Andrea can give you an estimate of the outcome of your case and a flat-fee price quote for legal representation.

 

How To Avoid Jail Time For Shoplifting

If you get caught shoplifting items worth under $500 in Missouri, the potential punishment is 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. If you hire an experienced attorney to represent you, it is very likely that your shoplifting charge will be dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense, such as “Littering.”

Will You Go to Jail For Shoplifting in Missouri?

As noted above, the judge has the power to send you to jail for up to 1 year for misdemeanor stealing (under $500). However, if you have no prior convictions for stealing, theft, petty larceny, or shoplifting and you have an attorney representing you, there is very little chance you will go to jail.

How Can an Attorney Help With Your Shoplifting Case?

In most Missouri municipal courts, an experienced attorney can negotiate a plea bargain deal with the Prosecuting Attorney so that a misdemeanor shoplifting charge is either:

  • Dismissed completely,
  • Reduced to a lesser offense, such as “Littering,” or
  • Dismissed after a period of probation

In a typical shoplifting case in a Missouri municipal court in which the defendant has hired an attorney to work out a deal with the Prosecutor, the defendant will very likely be required to do one or all of the following:

  • Pay a fine
  • Pay court costs
  • Complete the “Theft Offender” class
  • Do a few hours of community service
  • Serve a period of 1 to 2 years on probation

PLEASE NOTE:  In some courts in Missouri, the Prosecutor will not dismiss or reduce shoplifting charges, even if the defendant has no prior convictions.

How Much Are the Fines & Court Costs You Pay to the Court For a Shoplifting Case?

The amount of the fine you will pay for shoplifting could be anywhere from $100 to $500, depending on which court your case is in, your criminal history, and other details of your case. The amount of the court costs vary by court and can range from $25 to $65.

The “Theft Offender” class that the court will require a shoplifter to attend can be completed in one day and usually costs around $50 to $75.

The community service hours can usually be completed at any non-profit charitable organization, and the court usually gives defendants 2-3 months to complete the hours. The number of community service hours usually range from 10 to 25 hours, depending on the court and the details of your case.

Probation periods range from 6 months to 2 years, and can be either court-supervised or unsupervised “bench” probation.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Attorney For Your Shoplifting Case?

Most criminal defense attorneys charge a one-time flat-fee price to represent a defendant charged with misdemeanor (under $500) shoplifting, stealing, theft, or petty larceny. The amount the attorney charges depends on the following:

  • Which court is your case being prosecuted in? (Court name & address are listed on your ticket or summons.)
  • Do you have any prior convictions on your criminal record?
  • How old are you?
  • What did you steal?
  • What was the value of the items you stole?
  • Were the items you stole returned to the store undamaged?
  • Were you polite and respectful to the police officer?

What Will Happen If You Plead Guilty to Shoplifting With No Attorney Representing You?

Most attorneys advise defendants to not go to court without a lawyer or plead guilty to a charge of shoplifting, stealing, theft, or petty larceny in Missouri.

It will cost you less money up front if you plead guilty to shoplifting without having an attorney representing you. But in the long run it will cost you much more because having a shoplifting conviction on your permanent criminal record will prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, or obtaining a loan.

 

For more information about fighting a shoplifting/stealing charge in Missouri, read my previous blog post “What is the Punishment for Shoplifting/Stealing in Missouri?”


If you have been charged with shoplifting, stealing, petty larceny, or petty theft in Missouri, call St. Louis Shoplifting Lawyer Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or email her at [email protected] for a price quote for legal representation.

 

What Is The Punishment For Shoplifting/Stealing in Missouri?

Stealing items worth under $500 is a class A misdemeanor in Missouri. This is sometimes called “Shoplifting,” “Petty Larceny,” “Petty Theft,” or just “Stealing.”

If you plead guilty or are found guilty of shoplifting or stealing under $500 in Missouri, the judge can sentence you to up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Stores Can Sue Shoplifters

A store can sue you for the expenses they incurred as a result of your shoplifting.

Missouri law allows stores to sue shoplifters in civil court for restitution and damages. This means the store can sue you to get reimbursement for their costs and expenses, such as the cost for them to employ a security guard, or their expenses for items that get damaged and can not be re-shelved after they catch you shoplifting and retrieve the stolen item.

What Is a Civil Demand & Do I Have To Pay the $250?

After getting caught shoplifting, the store’s lawyer will send you a “civil demand letter.” The civil demand letter will state that you owe the store $250 to reimburse the store for its expenses resulting from your shoplifting.

Most attorneys advise their shoplifting clients to refuse to pay the $250 civil demand. As noted above, there is a Missouri law that allows stores to sue shoplifters but few stores actually do so.

You do not owe the store anything unless the store successfully sues you in civil court and wins a money judgment against you. Then, the store has to somehow collect on the judgment, which is very hard to do unless the store knows your bank account number or where you work.

What Happens If I Plead Guilty to Shoplifting or Stealing?

In Missouri, a judge can sentence you to up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 if you plead guilty or are found guilty of misdemeanor stealing (under $500).

Having a conviction for stealing on your criminal record will prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, and obtaining a loan.

Convictions for stealing are not eligible for expungement (removal) from your criminal record.

Hire a Lawyer To Fight Your Shoplifting/Stealing Charge

To avoid having a conviction for stealing on your permanent criminal record, hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you in court for your shoplifting/stealing charge.

In most cases, an experienced shoplifting lawyer can get your shoplifting charge dismissed completely or reduced to a lesser offense, such as “Littering.” The outcome of your case depends on many factors, but it is very likely that you won’t have to appear in court at all if you hire an attorney to represent you.

For more information about fighting a shoplifting/stealing charge in Missouri, read my previous blog post “What Is The Penalty For Shoplifting in Missouri?”


If you have been charged with shoplifting, stealing, petty larceny, or petty theft in Missouri, call St. Louis Shoplifting Lawyer Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or email her at [email protected] for a price quote for legal representation.

 

How to Keep a Stealing Charge Off of Your Criminal Record

Call St. Louis shoplifting attorney Andrea Storey Rogers today at (314) 724-5059 for a free consultation if you have been charged with shoplifting, stealing, theft, or petty larceny in Missouri.

You Will Need to Hire an Attorney if You Have Been Charged with Stealing 

If you have been charged with stealing, theft, shoplifting, or petty larceny, you will need an attorney to represent you so you don’t end up with a conviction for stealing on your permanent criminal record.

Defendants who try to represent themselves in court have to fight against both the prosecutor and the judge, who do not have the best interests of the defendant at heart.

Your Attorney Can Get Stealing/Shoplifting Charges Dismissed or Reduced to a Lesser Offense

The most likely outcome in most misdemeanor shoplifting/stealing cases is that your attorney will get the charge dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense, such as “Littering.”  In many cases, the defendant is required to pay a fine and court costs but does not have to appear in court at all.

Some courts require shoplifting defendants to perform a few hours of community service or take a “theft offender” class before the court will agree to dismiss the stealing charge. Other courts are more strict and will dismiss a stealing charge only after the defendant has successfully completed a period of 1 to 2 years of probation.

The outcome of each case depends on details such as:

  • Defendant’s criminal history.
  • Defendant’s age.
  • The court in which the case is being prosecuted.
  • Value & type of items stolen.
  • Your attorney’s skill & experience defending shoplifting cases.

Don’t Plead Guilty to Stealing

If you plead guilty or are convicted of shoplifting, stealing, theft, or petty larceny, the conviction will show up on your permanent criminal record.

A conviction for stealing will prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, getting a loan from a bank, and obtaining federal student loans for college.

If you plead guilty to stealing, the conviction will stay on your criminal record forever and can not be expunged (removed).

The Penalty for Shoplifting Under $500 in Missouri is 1 Year in Jail and a $1,000 Fine

In Missouri courts, shoplifters can be sentenced to up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine for stealing items valued at under $500. Stealing items valued at $500 or more is a felony, which is a much more serious crime.

Click here to read my previous blog post about penalties for shoplifting in Missouri.

What Is a Shoplifting Civil Demand and Should You Pay It?

After being caught shoplifting, you will receive a “Civil Demand” letter in the mail from the store. Civil demand letters typically state that the shoplifter must pay $250 to pay for the store’s expenses resulting from the shoplifting incident.

Most experienced criminal defense lawyers tell their clients not to pay the store’s civil demand.

Stores Can Sue Shoplifters & Send Civil Demand Letters

It is legal in Missouri for stores to sue shoplifters for up to $250, but you do not owe the store a single penny unless the store does the following:

1. Files a lawsuit against you in civil court,
2. Properly serves you with the lawsuit paperwork, and
3. Wins a judgment against you in court.

Even if a store successfully sues you in civil court and wins a money judgment against you, they can not collect on the judgment unless they know your bank account number or the name of your employer. Without this information, the store can’t garnish your paycheck or your bank account.

Most stores do not sue shoplifters because the cost of suing far exceeds the amount they will win in court, and also because collection of the judgment is very difficult.

Please Note: Paying the civil demand will not prevent the store from also filing a criminal charge against you for shoplifting if they have not already done so. Refusing to pay the civil demand will have no effect on the separate criminal case against you.


If you are facing criminal charges of shoplifting, stealing, theft, or petty larceny in Missouri, call St. Louis criminal defense attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 to discuss your case and get a price quote for legal representation.