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Shoplifting FAQs

What are the consequences of shoplifting?

It depends on the outcome of the case. Punishment can include jail time, fines, probation and community service.

If the value of the property taken is less than $200, the case is prosecuted in the local municipal court.

If the value of the property taken is more than $200m the case is prosecuted at the county level in Superior Court.

Community service is required for all shoplifting convictions. For a first offense, at least 10 days are required. For a second offense, at least 15 days. For a third or subsequent offense, a maximum of 25 days.

Anyone convicted of a third or subsequent shoplifting offense is required to do at least 90 days in the county jail.

It is very important to fight shoplifting charges. Ways to do this:

  • Diversionary program where the case is dismissed after a period of time and certain conditions are met.
  • Change the shoplifting charge to another charge that does not have such significant penalties.
  • Persuade the prosecutor to not impose probation or jail time.
  • Go to trial and prove innocence.

Can shoplifting be expunged from My Record?

Yes. It is important to expunge the case as soon as you are eligible.

Can shoplifting effect my future?

Yes. Shoplifting is a criminal case and criminal convictions are on your record forever unless they are expunged.

A shoplifting charge can have serious immigration consequences.

Consulting an experienced lawyer before resolving a criminal case is important to protect your future.

Can I get a job with shoplifting on my record?

It depends on the job. Many employers do a background check and will see any arrests and convictions. Shoplifting convictions can be expunged so that they don’t show up on your rap sheet. Contact an attorney to see if the case can be erased from your record.

When is shoplifting considered a felony?

If the value of the property taken is over $200 the case is charged as a felony.

Grading of shoplifting:

Second degree: retail value of merchandise is $75,000 or more.

Third degree: Retail value of merchandise is less than $75,000 but more than $500.

Fourth degree: retail value of merchandise is less than $500 but more than $200.

Will Felony theft charges result in jail time?

Maybe. Prosecutors usually recommend jail time for repeat shoplifting offenders and cases where the value of the property taken is very high. If there are circumstances about your personal life that are relevant, an experienced attorney may persuade a prosecutor to amend the shoplifting to something else or convince a court to keep you out of jail.

All felony cases face the possibility of state prison so effective advocacy from an attorney is required. If the prosecutor wants you to pay back the value of what was stolen, it is important for you to remain out of jail so that you can work and pay restitution. If you are stealing to support a drug habit, a drug rehabilitation program is more effective than jail. Maybe you can demonstrate remorse and pay back the community by doing community service.

Usually first time offenders do not go to jail for shoplifting.

Will getting caught stealing effect getting into college or the military?

It depends how you resolve the case. Of course, the best outcome is to have the case dismissed and there are programs that are available for some offenders. An experienced attorney will know how to put your case on a path to dismissal. If your case is dismissed, it can be expunged.

If you can avoid a conviction or convince the prosecutor to reduce the charge to something less serious, the chances of an arrest effecting your ability to get into college or serve in the military are better.