7 Questions for a Shoplifting Attorney
Shoplifting is one of the most common theft charges individuals face in Northwest Arkansas. But, just because a shoplifting charge is common doesn’t mean it isn’t serious. In addition to facing misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on how much you were caught shoplifting and if you have any prior convictions, you may face a civil suit from the company you attempted to steal from.
The legal system can be complicated and confusing, and you may have questions about shoplifting charges.
1. What should I do if I got caught shoplifting?
The best thing you can do if you are caught shoplifting is to cooperate with authorities. You should also consider contacting an experienced shoplifting attorney as soon as possible. A criminal defense attorney with experience defending against shoplifting charges can help you navigate the legal process and negotiate on your behalf.
2. I wasn’t stealing! This is just a mistake!
In some cases you may be charged with shoplifting even if you had every intent to pay for the item or items in question. It may be that you forgot you placed an item in your pocket. Or, maybe your behavior or appearance was deemed “suspicious” and you weren’t given an opportunity to pay for the item before being approached by police or security. An experienced theft attorney can help you clarify your story and use the facts to develop a stronger defense.
3. Will the judge go easy on me if this is my first offense?
In terms of sentencing, many judges are open to alternative punishments to jail time for first offenders. It is possible that you may receive probation or be ordered to complete an approved diversion program. Depending on the circumstances of your case and the charges brought against you, however, the penalties and fines you face can be extensive. And, because Arkansas allows merchants to file civil suits against shoplifters, you may end up owing thousands of dollars in additional fees. Whether this is your first or fourth offense, it is important to understand the charges and penalties you are facing so you can prepare a more effective defense.
4. My son, daughter or another minor in my care shoplifted and now I’m being sued!
Arkansas law allows merchants to file a civil lawsuit against an individual who has shoplifted or otherwise stolen from them. If the shoplifter is a minor, the merchant may pursue civil action against the parents or guardian. Merchants can sue for the cost of the stolen or damaged item(s) as well as seek reimbursement for court costs and legal fees. If your child or dependent has been arrested for shoplifting, you may face civil charges. An experienced Arkansas theft attorney can help you defend your child and yourself.
5. Are there any alternatives to jail time?
In some cases, you may be eligible to participate in a diversion program, such as the Benton County Work Program, in lieu of jail time or as a requirement during probation. This isn’t always an option, and an Arkansas criminal defense attorney can help you determine possible alternatives to jail time.
6. How long will a shoplifting charge stay on my record?
In Arkansas, it is possible to have your criminal record expunged if you meet certain conditions. You can request that a misdemeanor shoplifting charge be expunged if you have met all court orders related to your sentence. Similarly, if you are assigned probation, your record may be eligible to be expunged after you complete the court ordered probationary period. If you have multiple previous felony convictions and/or multiple prior felony convictions, however, or if you have previously expunged charges from your record, you may not be eligible for expungement even after completing all court ordered probation or jail time. Not everyone will be able to have charges removed or sealed, and you may wish to consult with an attorney or other professional who understands the expungement process.
7. Do I need an attorney if I was arrested for shoplifting?
Being arrested for shoplifting is a serious legal offense, and shoplifting penalties can include significant fines and jail time. As such, an experienced theft attorney can help you understand charges, navigate the legal process, and develop the best defense. If you aren’t sure about hiring an attorney, many lawyers – like Ben T. Roberds and the Roberds Law Firm – offer a free initial consultation to help you weigh your options and make the best decision for your situation and needs.