How to Find Information on Penalties for Shoplifting

Written by ehow legal editor
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Shoplifting is the act of stealing merchandise from a retail store or other shop. It is a serious crime, and the penalties increase for repeat offenders or when the stolen item is especially valuable or expensive. Penalties range from tickets and fines to jail time, so you should find out how your local laws treat shoplifting.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Computer with Internet access

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  1. 1

    Check the U.S. Department of Justice Web site to learn about the potential penalties for shoplifting, such as fines, jail time and community service time (see Resources below). In addition, check your state penal code for maximum criminal penalties for larceny or for specific shoplifting sentences.

  2. 2

    Speak to your lawyer or legal counsel about the potential penalty phase of shoplifting cases.

  3. 3

    Contact a local police station to discover fines or penalties instituted by local police or courts.

  4. 4

    Consider speaking to store security in your area to find out penalties for shoplifting and rates of prosecution.

  5. 5

    Know that if you are convicted on shoplifting charges, the conviction on your permanent record can be expunged if you satisfy requirements established by the court.

    Understand the Potential Penalties for Shoplifting

  1. 1

    Do community service to satisfy a conviction for shoplifting. Volunteer work is often given as the penalty for shoplifting.

  2. 2

    Know that you may have to pay a fine for shoplifting. This penalty is somewhat like a traffic ticket.

  3. 3

    Understand that a store has the right to call the police and that you can be arrested and officially charged with larceny. Though this charge is extreme in most cases, shoplifting is still theft and can be prosecuted as such.

  4. 4

    Realize that when a crime involves money, you can be sued in a civil case and ordered to repay the money if convicted. You can also be ordered to pay restitution as part of the penalty phase of a criminal trial.

Tips and warnings

  • Realize that being convicted of shoplifting may be expensive if you're faced with legal fees, fines and restitution.
  • Know the specific steps a store must follow to establish probable cause in a shoplifting case. If these steps are not followed, you may get your case thrown out.

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