Shoplifting is a serious offense and is one of the most common crimes people commit. According to data published in New York Magazine, approximately one out of every 11 citizens have shoplifted in the past. That information comes from the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention.
Shoplifting may seem like a small crime, which may explain why so many people commit it. However, it can carry some serious penalties. It is vital for people arrested for shoplifting to fight the charges to avoid jail time and/or heavy fines.
Penalties vary depending on the value of the stolen property
Different factors affect what kind of sentence a person may face. For example, stealing something worth less than $1,000 constitutes a Class A misdemeanor, and as a result, the maximum sentence is a $1,000 fine and/or jail time for up to one year. Here are additional breakdowns for the charges shoplifters may face.
- Stealing items worth between $1,000 and $3,000 constitutes a Class E felony
- Stealing items worth between $3,000 and $5,000 constitutes a Class D felony
- Stealing items worth between $50,000 and $1,000,000 constitutes a Class C felony
- Stealing items worth over $1,000,000 constitutes a Class B felony
A Class B felony can result in a fine of up to $5,000 as well as a 25-year prison sentence. Additional factors, such as any previous criminal record, can affect the ultimate sentence.
Civil suits are also a possibility
In addition to the criminal trial, shoplifters may also need to go through civil liability cases with the person pressing charges. The defendant may need to pay damages in excess of the worth of the item the person initially stole.
A shoplifting arrest does not have to alter a person’s life. A criminal defense attorney can help the person fight the charges so that there is a greater likelihood the charges become either dropped or reduced.