When many people use the term “shoplifting,” they do so in a way to denote a minor crime. While it is technically stealing, they do not think of it as a very serious or worrisome problem. It is even common for people to say that shoplifting is no big deal. However, the opposite is true. There is no specific crime of shoplifting in Ohio. It is simply theft to take products from a store without paying, and it is punished harshly under the law.
If you were caught shoplifting, you could face a misdemeanor or felony offense that brings with it a series of inconvenient and unpleasant consequences. You should contact a Columbus theft attorney of Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP right away (614) 500-3836, or reach out through the online form to schedule a free consultation.
Columbus Shoplifting Charges
The charge you face for shoplifting depends on the specific property you took and its value. The more valuable the stolen items, the higher the offense. Property valued at:
- Less than $1,000 is petty theft and a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
- More than $1,000 and less than $7,000 is theft and a fifth-degree felony, punishable by up to 12 months in prison and a $2,500 fine.
- More than $7,000 and less than $150,000 is grand theft and a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison a $5,000 fine.
However, if you stole a gun or drugs, you will be charged with a fourth-degree felony no matter these item’s value.
7 Consequences of Shoplifting in Columbus
When you have been charged with theft in Central Ohio, you need to understand what you may have to deal with if you are convicted.
- Jail time: If you are being charged with theft for the first time, you may be able to avoid jail time. However, if this is a subsequent offense or you stole a significant amount of goods, then you will likely spend time in the county jail or a state prison. The experienced Columbus shoplifting attorneys of LHA understand how to appeal to a judge and seek the minimum jail sentence possible.
- Probation: If you are convicted of shoplifting, you may have to submit to a period of community control sanctions, better known as probation, instead of or in addition to jail or prison time. During probation, you may be required to attend school or remain employed, check in with a law or probation officer on a regular basis, and not drink alcohol or take drugs. You may be required to submit to drug or alcohol screenings or to complete drug and alcohol education or rehabilitation. If you do not comply with all of the requirements of your probation, you could face additional consequences like returning to jail.
- Court costs and fines: A shoplifting conviction will cost you. Not only will you be required to pay various court costs, but you can face a significant fine as part of your criminal penalty. It is possible for the fine to be more than the value of stolen property.
- Restitution: It is common for individuals convicted of theft in Columbus to be required to pay restitution to the owners of the stolen property. Even if this is not part of your criminal punishment, you could face civil charges for your crime. The civil case could result in you having to pay back the value of the property taken. If you damaged the store or the merchandise during the crime, you may have to pay for this as well.
- Community service: In addition to or instead of jail time and probation, you may have to complete a certain number of community service hours. You will have complete these hours through an approved agency and within a certain period of time, in addition to continuing school or work. Community service can be a great way to avoid jail time, which is why a petty theft attorney from LHA may seek this type of punishment during your shoplifting case.
- A criminal record: Whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, you will have a criminal conviction on your background. This will be seen by employers, colleges and universities, loan providers and even landlords. A conviction for theft can make you look untrustworthy, making it difficult to obtain a good job, find an affordable place to live and pay for your schooling.
- Barred from certain jobs and licenses: When you are convicted of theft, you may be entirely barred from working certain jobs such as in a bank or government agency. You may also have a much harder time being approved for a professional license such as what is needed to become an attorney or a doctor. One small mistake can make it difficult to start and advance your career.
Contact a Columbus Shoplifting Attorney Today
If you are facing theft charges in Central Ohio, do not hesitate to seek help from the legal team at Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP. We have years of experience defending individuals charged with all levels of theft in court and fighting for the best possible outcomes for their cases. Contact us today learn how we can help you move forward and avoid the harsh consequences of a Columbus shoplifting conviction.