Retail theft is a crime that Ohio law enforcement officers deal with every day. Basically, it involves taking something out of a store that you did not pay for. If you’ve been charged with this crime, you need an experienced Ohio criminal defense attorney to assist you as you navigate the court system.
Retail theft happens for many reasons and across all socio-economic backgrounds. Some people do it “for fun.” They think it’s enjoyable to sneak things out of a store past the cashiers and security guards. Sometimes, people steal because they want something but don’t have the money for it, and many times, they shoplift because they are in need of it but again, don’t have enough money to buy it.
Whatever the reason for the theft, shoplifting is a very serious crime that has long-lasting effects on a person’s life. It leaves them with a criminal record that will exclude them from certain careers, housing options, and educational experiences. It also ruins their reputation, and the people around them will be hesitant to open themselves and their homes up to someone they know is a thief. Sometimes, a person with a retail theft charge on their record will even have difficulty keeping their children in their custody. Finally, the store from which they stole the goods will ban them from ever entering again, which may limit their ability to shop in person. The stigma society holds against a person convicted of theft is a deeply held, very serious one.
The Ohio Revised Code, in Chapter 29, Section 2913.02, defines retail theft and shoplifting as purposing to deprive the owner of a service or property and knowingly taking control of it, without his or her consent or that of someone authorized to give express or implied consent, and taking it by threat, deception, or intimidation.
The charges a person receives for a retail theft vary and depend on the value of the items taken.
For items that total less than $1,000, a person will be charged with first-degree misdemeanor petty theft. The penalties for that charge include fines of up to $1,000 and as many as six months in jail.
If the value of the items a person stole was over $1,000, the person will be charged with felony theft, which comes with fines of as much as $20,000 and as many as 11 years in jail. The penalties go up incrementally based on the items stolen and the offender’s previous crimes. Felony theft also comes with restitution requirements and the possibility of a civil lawsuit being filed against you by the victim.
As dire as the consequences are for a retail theft conviction, there are defenses that a well-trained and dedicated criminal defense attorney can use to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Depending on the circumstances of your retail theft, it could be argued that you did not steal the items. Or, maybe you didn’t intend to steal the item(s). It’s entirely possible that you forgot the item was in your possession when you got to the checkout. Did someone force you to steal the item? If so, it means you were under duress and were afraid for your health, safety, or life if you did not comply. Or, perhaps the property you are accused of stealing was something you already owned and paid for.
It’s important that you tell your attorney every detail of your shopping trip and your arrest. He will need to know the tiniest details so he can plan a defense strategy that will get you the best outcome possible. Even if you think something is not important, it might be the difference between a conviction and a dismissal, so share it with the lawyer.
Those who have been charged with retail theft need a competent and dedicated criminal defense attorney to stand beside them as they face their charges. Youngstown Criminal Law Group is dedicated to defending its clients with thorough research and aggressive defenses. Call them today at 330-531-8505. Someone will take your call 24/7. They can also be reached online.