Shoplifting – How To Avoid Jail Time And A Conviction On Your Criminal Record

shoplifting

Shoplifting stays on your criminal record forever and can prevent you from getting a job or renting an apartment. An experienced attorney can get your shoplifting ticket dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense such as “Littering.”

What Is The Penalty For Shoplifting In Missouri?

In addition to the penalties listed above, you will have a conviction for stealing that will show up on your permanent criminal record.

Can An Attorney Get Your Shoplifting Ticket Dismissed?

If you have been charged with Shoplifting, Stealing, Petty Theft, or Petty Larceny, these are your options:

  • Plead guilty (not recommended)
  • Plead not guilty and take your case to trial (expensive, with a high risk of losing)
  • Hire an attorney to get your shoplifting charge dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense, such as “Littering”

Here are some things that will affect the type of plea bargain deal you will get:

  • How old are you?
  • Have you been caught shoplifting before?
  • What did you steal?
  • Do you have an experienced attorney representing you?
  • Which court is your case being prosecuted in? (some judges require jail time for shoplifting)

What Happens If You Plead Guilty To Shoplifting

If you plead guilty to shoplifting or stealing, the conviction will stay on your criminal record forever and you can never have it expunged or sealed.

Some people decide to plead guilty to minor shoplifting charges because it’s cheaper than hiring a lawyer to get the charge dismissed or reduced to “Littering.” Or they plead guilty because the police officer told them it’s “just like a speeding ticket.”

Needless to say, shoplifting tickets are not like speeding tickets. If you plead guilty to stealing or shoplifting, even if it’s under $150, you will end up with a conviction for stealing on your permanent criminal record.

A conviction for shoplifting can prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, or getting federal student aid for college. It can also cause you to lose your government subsidized housing.

How Long Does a Shoplifting Conviction Stay On Your Criminal Record?

Shoplifting will stay on your criminal record forever because a shoplifting conviction can’t be expunged.

Missouri’s new expungement law increased the number of misdemeanors and felonies that are eligible for expungement (removal), but stealing/shoplifting is still not on the list of offenses that can be expunged.

What To Do If You Pleaded Guilty To Shoplifting But Want To Change Your Plea

After you plead guilty to shoplifting, it’s not too late to change your mind and withdraw your plea. You will need to hire an attorney to withdraw your plea and get your shoplifting charge dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense, such as “Littering.”

It’s more difficult to withdraw a guilty plea if:

  • You had an attorney representing you when you pleaded guilty, or
  • Too much time has passed since your plea

Should You Pay The $250 Civil Demand Fine For Shoplifting?

If you get caught stealing, the police officer may arrest you and take you to jail, or they might just issue a ticket for shoplifting and let you go.

The next thing that will happen after you get caught shoplifting is that you will receive a “Civil Demand” letter in the mail from an attorney representing the store where you shoplifted. The shoplifting Civil Demand letter will state that you owe the store $250 to reimburse them for their expenses related to your shoplifting.

Many people pay the shoplifting Civil Demand fine because they fear what will happen if they refuse to pay. Please note the following:

  • You do not owe the store anything unless they successfully sue you in court and win a judgment against you
  • If your attorney has experience handling shoplifting cases, they will advise you to refuse to pay the shoplifting Civil Demand fine
  • Whether or not you pay the Civil Demand fine will have no effect on your criminal shoplifting case

You can read more about this in my previous blog post, “Should You Pay a Shoplifting Civil Demand Fine.”

Will The Store Sue You For Shoplifting?

Stores can legally sue shoplifters but most don’t because the litigation costs more than the $250 judgment they would get if they defeat you in court.

In addition, the store knows it will be very difficult to garnish your paycheck or bank account to collect the $250 judgment.

If you have been charged with shoplifting in Missouri, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney before deciding what to do. Most criminal defense attorneys offer a free consultation.

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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.