Around the holidays, we start to see an increase in theft offenses. Stores are aware of this and typically increase their asset protection services staff. While shoplifting is commonly a crime of opportunity committed on a whim and not planned, we’d encourage you to think before you act.
In most of our cases, the individual had more than enough money in their wallet to cover the cost of the merchandise they stole. Before stealing makeup or clothing, consider whether you can afford it and, if not, if you can wait until it goes on sale.
The cost of a theft charge is almost certainly greater than the cost of the merchandise. Bond for a misdemeanor shoplifting offense is generally around $1,000. Bond for felony theft is going to be significantly higher. Attorney fees are much higher than your bond amount. Court fines will vary but the maximum for a misdemeanor offense is $1,000 plus court costs which will add several hundred dollars to that amount. Then there’s the cost of the shoplifting course (around $60), probation fees (around $50 per month), and drug and alcohol testing while on probation (around $15-35 per test).
Then there’s also the opportunity costs involved. You will likely have to take time off work to make multiple court appearances, meetings with your attorneys, probation appointments, and to complete community service. You may also miss out on opportunities that would have otherwise been available to you. Many employers will not consider someone with a theft conviction if you are in a position of trust. If you will steal from others, why would they trust you not to steal from them?
A theft offense could derail your future plans and you need to consider that before making the decision to shoplift. And if you are caught shoplifting, you need to hire an experienced legal team to represent you to resolve your case in a way that allows your criminal record to be restricted and your court records sealed to give you the best opportunity moving forward.