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