What Happens When You’re Caught Shoplifting?


What Happens When You’re Caught Shoplifting?

Shoplifting isn’t considered a serious crime, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously. Even though shoplifting is considered a misdemeanor, it’s usually charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. In many states, that can mean up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. The process usually follows the procedural steps listed below, but different states and localities might follow a slightly different version. Nobody can truly tell you what will happen in your particular shoplifting case except for the criminal defense attorney assigned to your case. However, this information might help you get a general idea of the situation.

Banned and Advised

Usually, the first step after being caught shoplifting is a ban. You’ll probably be told to give the items back if you were caught on site. You might also be told that you’re no longer able to come back to that particular store or to the entire shopping complex. You will likely be advised of your next steps, which usually involves receiving information about your court date in the mail. It’s very important to follow that information closely, to keep the information that is mailed to you, and to hand it over to your attorney with any other evidence he might have that can help him or her defend you in court.

Court Date

Even if this is your first offense, you need to show up in court and come prepared. Do not try to handle your court date on your own. No matter how much evidence do you have that could help you, nothing will help you as much as an experienced criminal defense attorney. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer can be a lifesaver when you have to go in front of a judge and make your case. Always be respectful when you appear in court and show that you are remorseful for your crimes if your attorney advises you to plead guilty.


Sentencing depends largely on the specifics of the case and the location in which the offense occurred. It’s possible to serve jail time even if this is your first offense. You may be eligible for certain programs in lieu of jail time. Ask your attorney if any of these programs are available to you. You may also be able to appeal any convictions, but this is not always possible and an appeal is never a guarantee of freedom.

Useful Tips

When dealing with law enforcement in the court system, there are some useful tips that apply across the board that you should keep in mind. Unless and until your criminal defense attorney advises you to plead guilty, never admit to anything. While you’re waiting on your court date, don’t talk to anyone but your attorney about the details of the case. Don’t share details of the event with your friends, don’t make incriminating statements to anybody, and definitely don’t post anything about it on social media. Doing any of these things can seriously damage your case. Rest assured that the prosecutors on the case will do their digging and will talk to most of the people you know. They will also look at your social media accounts. If you have admitted to or even suggested that you might have been guilty of the crime, that can be used against you in court.

Future Implications

Being convicted of a shoplifting charge can have serious implications for your future, even though it’s a misdemeanor. It can prohibit you from getting certain jobs, it can hinder your college application success, and it will show up on your background check. You could file for an expungement of your record after a year if it’s your only offense and you don’t require any more charges in that time. However, that’s still a long time to wait to have your record go back to normal.

It’s critically important that you hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as you are charged with shoplifting. Having a defense attorney by your side could lower your sentence and help prevent you from future implications of a shoplifting conviction. Additionally, hiring a criminal defense attorney can help you obtain benefits that you might not even know to ask for. You could be given a work program or community service sentence instead of having to serve jail time. Or, you could avoid a conviction altogether. Only a qualified criminal defense attorney in your state is able to advocate for you effectively and obtain the best possible outcome. Get started today with a consultation and take the first step on the road towards freedom.


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