Petty theft or shoplifting laws vary from state to state. Some punishments will include prison time, while others will just slap you with a large fine. Either which, here are several lawyer-provided tips on how to reduce a shoplifting fine.
What Should You Do If You Get Caught Shoplifting?
Being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the severity of the item that you stole. Again, each state has different rules for shoplifting. But, most of the time, if the items that you took are worth less than $500, then it’s only considered as a misdemeanor stealing.
There are two things that can happen when you get caught shoplifting.
It’s either you can get arrested or police might just issue you a shoplifting ticket and let you go. (Related: How to Find Out If The Police Are Investigating You)
If an officer issued you a shoplifting ticket, you can go to court and represent yourself. You can also hire lawyers to represent you in court.
Factors That Can Affect Your Shoplifting Case
Your age can significantly affect your case. The judge can be more merciful to you if you’re younger.
Your criminal history will also affect the decision of the judge. If you have prior convictions, the chances are high that even a plea bargain deal won’t be offered to you.
The Item You Stole
The item that you stole can also interfere with the judge’s decision. The judge might be more lenient if you got caught stealing food for your baby than taking cosmetics just for fun.
The Value of the Stolen Item
Your case may be treated differently depending on the value of the item that you stole. For instance, a $30 item has lower charges than stealing something that’s worth $500.
Can You Take a Shoplifting Ticket Off of Your Record?
Yes, you can pay to get your shoplifting ticket off your criminal record. But getting rid of it is much more expensive than pleading guilty and paying a fine.
However, a shoplifting conviction can’t be expunged from your criminal record. If you have a prior conviction, most likely you will find it hard to get a decent job in the future. Even applying for a scholarship for your college might get you rejected.
The best thing to do is find a criminal defense lawyer that can help you lower your charges or totally dismiss your case. In some cases, a good lawyer will do all the work for you without you having to appear in court.
Did you find this helpful? Check out our post on what to do if you missed a court date for a traffic violation.