When people think of someone shoplifting, they often imagine someone taking something without paying, leaving a store and then almost immediately being stopped by security guards and forced to return the stolen property. They imagine the entire situation being over in a matter of minutes.
While shoplifting cases can play out this way, oftentimes, they spiral into a far more serious situation. In many cases, a person accused of shoplifting winds up facing several criminal charges and severe consequences.
A minor shoplifting offense can become very serious for a few reasons.
- A person who has shoplifted may commit other offenses to get away with it. They may break into a car or run from police, resulting in charges of grand theft auto or evading arrest. In one recent case, a man was charged with impersonating an officer because he claimed to be a police when a store employee stopped him to question him about unpaid merchandise. Instead of one shoplifting charge, people can easily face several charges once police catch up with them.
- Even if someone steals one item, he or she can face serious felony charges depending on the value of the item taken. In other words, a person who steals several items worth less than $1,000 will face less severe penalties than someone who steals one item worth more than $1,000.
- Instead of dealing with a shoplifting charge quickly and quietly, people can find their picture and name plastered on social media sites and news articles when they are accused of shoplifting. The fact that this information can be made available so quickly and widely instantly raises the stakes of an allegation.
Further, it should be noted that a conviction of any criminal charge can leave a stain on your criminal record, destroy career opportunities and put your reputation and freedom in serious jeopardy.
Considering how easily a shoplifting charge can spin out of control and the severe penalties associated with any criminal conviction, it can be critical that you consult an attorney to defend yourself if you are charged with shoplifting.