The punishment for shoplifting at the Galleria mall in St. Louis, Missouri is worse than in other areas of St. Louis.
Which Court Prosecutes St. Louis Galleria Shoplifters?
If you have been charged with misdemeanor shoplifting (under $500) at the Galleria in St. Louis, your case will be prosecuted in the Richmond Heights Municipal Court, which treats shoplifting more seriously than many other municipalities in St. Louis.
How to Decide Whether to Accept a Plea Bargain or Go to Trial With Your Shoplifting Case
If you have proof of your innocence and you can afford to hire a trial attorney, you might want to consider taking your case to trial. But if you can’t afford a trial attorney and you have no proof of your innocence, or if you’re actually guilty of shoplifting, you can hire an attorney to negotiate a plea bargain with the court to get your shoplifting charge dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense.
The outcome of your case depends on many factors, including 1) your criminal history, 2) your age, 3) the specific details of your case, 4) the skill and experience of your attorney, 5) which court your case is being prosecuted in, and 6) the nature and value of the item you stole.
An Attorney Can Keep You From Having a Shoplifting Conviction on Your Criminal Record
In many courts in the St. Louis area, an experienced attorney can get your shoplifting charge dismissed or reduced to “Littering” with a fine and no court appearance required.
But for Galleria shoplifting cases, you will have to appear in court with your attorney, and the best plea bargain deal your attorney can negotiate is most likely an SIS (suspended imposition of sentence), 2 years of probation, payment of $26.50 in court costs, 20 hours of community service, completion of the “Theft Offenders” class, and you will be prohibited from entering the Galleria during the probation period.
If you successfully complete probation with no violations, the court will close your case with no conviction on your criminal record.
What is an SIS (Suspended Imposition of Sentence)?
An SIS is a Suspended Imposition of Sentence. This means there will be no conviction on your criminal record if you successfully complete probation without any violations. While on probation for shoplifting, it is considered a violation if you are arrested, charged, or have any type of law enforcement contact relating to shoplifting, theft, larceny, or stealing.
Often, one of the conditions of probation is that you are banned from entering the mall or store where you were caught shoplifting. If you violate that ban by entering the mall or store, you could be arrested and charged with trespassing.
If you violate probation, there will be a probation revocation hearing, where the judge will decide whether to revoke your probation and sentence you for the original crime you committed.
What is the Maximum Penalty for Shoplifting in Missouri?
The maximum penalty for misdemeanor shoplifting in Missouri is 1 year in jail and a fine of $1,000. You can represent yourself in court for a shoplifting charge, but without legal representation, you risk having the judge sentence you to the maximum punishment.
Shoplifting Convictions Show Up On Criminal Background Checks
Many people mistakenly believe that a ticket for shoplifting is just a minor offense that won’t affect their criminal record, and that all they have to do to resolve their case is plead guilty and pay a small fine.This is not true.
PLEASE NOTE: If you plead guilty to shoplifting, you will have a conviction on your permanent criminal record, and that conviction will show up on criminal background checks. A shoplifting conviction can’t be expunged (removed) later, and it will prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, getting a loan from a bank, and obtaining federal student loans.
Stores Can Sue You in Civil Court for Shoplifting
Missouri law allows stores to sue shoplifters. Many stores send “civil demand” letters to shoplifters, threatening to sue the person in civil court unless they pay $250 to the store to reimburse it for its expenses. This is separate and different from a criminal shoplifting charge.
Many attorneys advise their clients to ignore “civil demand” letters because it’s not very likely that a store will follow through on its threat to sue the shoplifter in civil court.
Remember: You don’t owe the store anything unless the store sues you in civil court and wins a judgment against you. If that occurs, the store can collect on its judgment by garnishing your paycheck or bank account (if they know where you work or if they have your bank account number). The most that a store can recover from a shoplifter they have successfully sued in civil court is $250.
Keep in mind that paying the “civil demand” has no effect on your criminal shoplifting case. For more information, click here to read my previous blog post about penalties for shoplifting in Missouri.
If you have been charged with shoplifting, stealing, petty theft, or larceny, call St. Louis shoplifting attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 for a free consultation and get a price quote for legal representation.