Shoplifting is a common criminal charge, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously. Some charges are the result of a simple misunderstanding, or in the case of young people, a momentary poor decision made on impulse. In other cases, people are shoplifting out of necessity. Regardless of the situation, you should be aware that shoplifting is aggressively prosecuted and the consequences can be serious.
If you’re facing shoplifting charges, the Cincinnati criminal defense attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates can help you get a fair result. We work with clients who are facing any kind of theft charges, including both misdemeanor and felony shoplifting charges. A conviction could change your life forever. Call us at (513) 338-1890 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation and discuss how we can help.
Shoplifting Under Ohio Law
Unlike many other states, Ohio does not have a specific shoplifting law. Instead, shoplifting is prosecuted under Ohio’s laws against theft. As a result, you should not assume, as many people do, that shoplifting is somehow less serious than any other theft charge.
The statute addresses many different kinds of theft, but to convict you on a shoplifting charge, the prosecution must prove that you intentionally or knowingly took store merchandise without consent. This sounds relatively straightforward, but the critical element is intent – if the prosecution cannot prove that you intended to shoplift, you cannot be convicted. The prosecution will rely upon circumstantial evidence to prove that you intended to shoplift. An experienced criminal defense attorney can challenge that evidence and possibly help you avoid conviction.
Depending on the value of the property involved, you can be charged with misdemeanor or felony shoplifting.
Misdemeanor shoplifting is charged when the merchandise is worth less than $1,000.00. Most shoplifting charges are misdemeanor charges for this reason. If you are convicted, you face the following penalties:
- Up to 180 days in jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Restitution (having to pay the store owner for the value of any merchandise that was lost or stolen)
- Payment of court costs
- Community service
If convicted, you will likely receive some combination of these penalties. The value of the property may be taken into account by the judge at sentencing, but be aware that the law does not recognize a distinction between $900 in stolen merchandise and $50 in stolen merchandise.
Felony shoplifting is charged if the merchandise at issue is worth more than $1,000.00. Unless the property is valued at more than $7,500.00, it will be charged as a fifth-degree felony, carrying the following potential penalties:
- Six to 12 months in prison
- Fines of up to $2,500.00
- Court costs
- Community service
Shoplifting charges for property worth more than $7,500.00 are rare, but you should be aware that such cases may involve additional charges and the potential penalties become much more severe. It’s also important to keep in mind that the store owner and the prosecution may overvalue the property in borderline cases in order to charge you with a more serious crime than you deserve.
Additional Consequences of Shoplifting
In addition to jail time, fines, and other penalties discussed above, there are numerous collateral consequences if you are convicted of shoplifting. A shoplifting conviction will go on your permanent criminal record which is available to the public. This means that potential employers can find your conviction when you are looking for a job. It could also impact your ability to secure rental housing, receive public benefits, and jeopardize your immigration status. Lastly, your conviction could cause you considerable embarrassment among your family, friends, and community.
Contact the Cincinnati Criminal Defense Attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates
Shoplifting charges are serious and aggressively prosecuted, but remember that you have rights. Don’t plead guilty without understanding your options – contact the shoplifting defense attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP to discuss your case and how we can help you get a fair result. Contact us today at (513) 338-1890 to schedule a free consultation.