If you or a loved one have been charged with petty theft, you might be wondering what to do next. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we understand that shoplifting or other petty theft crimes are often a one-time mistake or occurred because you felt pressured. But a lapse in judgment shouldn’t define the rest of your life.
Our experienced Columbus theft attorneys can help you defend you or your child against these charges or push for a pretrial diversion program to avoid a criminal conviction. We are prepared to aggressively represent you in court and do what is best for your future.
What Happens to a First-Time Petty Theft Offender?
You can be charged with petty theft in a number of circumstances, from shoplifting to obtaining money, property, or services from someone else based on false promises.
Ohio Theft Laws
Under the state law, theft is more than simply walking out of a store with a few products in your pocket without paying. Statute 2913.02 defines theft as one person, with the intention of depriving the rightful owner of property or services, exerting control over or obtaining property or services:
- Without consent of the owner
- Beyond the scope of implied or express consent given by the owner
- By threat
- By intimidation
- By deception
However, specific factors determine when prosecutors charge you with petty theft versus grand theft.
What is Petty Theft?
Prosecutors charge someone with petty theft like shoplifting when you allegedly obtained services or took property worth less than $1,000, so long as the items are not a vehicle, firearm, or drugs.
Petty Theft Penalties
As a first-degree misdemeanor, petty theft is the lowest theft crime you can be charged with. All other theft charges are felonies.
A petty theft conviction may result in up to 180 days in county jail and $1,000 in fines. You will also have a criminal record that can affect going to college and getting a good job.
Options for First-Time Theft Offenders
When you are a first-time petty theft offender, which means you have no previous criminal convictions, there may be another option instead of jail. These include a pretrial diversion program or a plea agreement.
Theft diversion programs can differ greatly from county to county. However, the basic premise is the same. Instead of going to trial, you and the prosecutors agree to a program that includes supervision, community service, restitution, and possibly a class about theft.
Theft Related to Addiction
Depending on the circumstances, you may also be required to complete drug or alcohol testing, education, or rehab. If the courts believe your crime was motivated by addiction, you may be eligible for Intervention in Lieu of Conviction (IILC).
This specific diversion program may include court-supervised addiction treatment with counseling, testing, community service, restitution, and remaining drug and alcohol-free for at least 12 months.
The Benefits of Ohio’s Theft Diversion Programs
If you complete the elements of a diversion or IILC program successfully, the petty theft charges will be dismissed and a conviction will not appear on your criminal record. However, if you do not complete the program, you will be found guilty of petty theft and face the usual penalties.
Diverson Prgrams are Not Garunteed
Depending on the circumstances of your arrest and prior record, you may not be eligible for a pretrial diversion program. In this case, your attorney will try to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor.
As a first-time offender, your attorney may be able to negotiate an arrangement in which you avoid jail in favor of probation, fines, restitution, and community service. It is not always possible to avoid a conviction, but an experienced attorney can help minimize the consequences.
Call a Columbus Theft Lawyer Today
Being charged with a crime for stealing is scary, particularly when prosecutors say you will go to jail and pay fines that you cannot afford. Instead of being intimidated, contact Luftman, Heck & Associates to learn about all your legal options. Our experienced legal team is ready to analyze your situation and develop a strong defense.
Give our Columbus petty theft lawyers a call today at (614) 500-3836 to schedule a free consultation.