Shoplifting is the most common theft charge in Missouri, and while many people have stolen something – if only by accident – in their lifetime, being caught and charged with shoplifting in Missouri can lead to some serious consequences.
If caught, the businesses and law enforcement will take any slip of judgment extremely seriously and you may find yourself the subject of a criminal charge, not just a slap on the wrist or a store ban, with associated sentencing.
Here’s what you need to know about shoplifting charges in Missouri.
What Constitutes Shoplifting in Missouri?
Some states have specific charges for shoplifting or “retail theft” which may be more understanding of circumstances, but Missouri simply recognizes shoplifting as a type of stealing.
This means it carries the same stigma and same possible penalties as other more serious types of theft, like auto theft and larceny.
Shoplifting occurs when an individual takes property from another without their consent or by deceit, meaning to deprive the other. This can mean physical goods taken as well as leaving a service business without paying.
What Class Misdemeanor is Shoplifting in Missouri?
The type of penalty given in Missouri is based on the value of the goods taken. Theft of goods with less than $500 in value means you will be charged with Class A Misdemeanor Theft.
A class A misdemeanor incurs a penalty of up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, the outcome of a single case could be affected by the court it’s heard in, and other factors such as the value of items taken, the age of the defendant and their criminal history.
Your attorney may be able to get your Shoplifting case dismissed, reduced to a lesser offense such as “littering” or reduced after a period of probation. Stealing something worth under $150 has been reduced to a Class D misdemeanor for first-time offenders with a maximum fine of $500, but no jail time. You also may not have to appear in court yourself if you have an attorney to represent you.
Can Shoplifting Ever Be a Felony?
If goods stolen by shoplifting are valued at more than $500 and less than $25,000 it will be prosecuted as Class C Felony Theft. This is a serious charge with serious potential consequences, in the same category as auto theft and credit card theft.
A class C felony carries a maximum penalty of up to 7 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. The jail term cannot be less than 1 year and maybe longer than 7 with a prior criminal record.
What Will a Judge Take into Consideration When Sentencing for Shoplifting?
There are many things the Judge will have to consider before deciding on a sentence for a specific shoplifting case. A good attorney will make sure these factors work in favor of their client.
In Missouri, the county in which the case is being prosecuted may have its own mandatory penalties which the judge will have to follow. The Judge will consider what was stolen, the price of the item and whether it was immediately returned undamaged.
They will also look at if the defendant attempted to run away, how old they are and if they have any prior convictions for theft, stealing or shoplifting.
If offenders are teenagers, parents can get the best possible help from an attorney experienced in handling teen cases. We will work to show the judge that charges should be reduced, deferred or dropped altogether. Contact us as soon as possible so that we can prepare a strong defense.
Will a Criminal Defense Lawyer Work On a Shoplifting Case?
If you’ve been accused of Shoplifting a St. Louis criminal defense lawyer will be able to fight your case and will aim to get the charges dismissed or reduced as much as possible. A shoplifting charge will give you a criminal record if you don’t already have one – or add a new charge to it if you do, as well as potential jail time – so it’s absolutely worth fighting. That’s exactly what we do, Combs Law Group [link: combslawstl.com] will ensure this minor charge stays as just that – a minor obstacle in your life, not something that derails it. Contact us today for a free case evaluation so we can start working on your case as soon as possible.