Can I Go to Jail for Shoplifting?


Shoplifting is one of the most common crimes. However, that does not mean it’s considered a minor offense. Theft convictions can carry harsh penalties, including costly criminal restitution fees, fines, and incarceration. If you or a loved one have been accused of shoplifting, having a talented Baldwin County Criminal Defense Lawyer on your side is crucial to combat your charges. Please continue reading to learn the potential penalties for theft crimes.

What Are the Penalties For Shoplifting?

Under the law, you will be charged with theft if you “intentionally take or seize unauthorized control over another person’s property to deprive the other person of that property.” It’s imperative to understand that taking another person’s property or services can occur physically or through deceptive measures.

Theft offenses, such as shoplifting, are classified based on the value of property involved and, in some cases, the circumstances or type of property involved. That said, penalties can range from a class A misdemeanor to a class B felony. The lowest level theft offense is a fourth-degree theft charge, considered a class A misdemeanor. If you stole property or services valued at or under $500, you will face a fine of $6,000 and up to one year of imprisonment.

It’s crucial to understand that it is considered a felony offense to steal property or services valued at over $500. If the value of the property or services involved is more than $500 but less than $1,500, the offense constitutes a third-degree theft charge. A third-degree theft is classified as a class D felony, meaning it’s punishable by a fine of up to $7,500 and imprisonment for no less than one year and a day to five years. If you steal property or services that are valued between $15,000 and $2,5000, this constitutes second-degree theft. This is a class C felony, punishable by a fine of up to $15,000 and imprisonment for up to ten years. If the value of the property involved is more significant than $2,500, it’s classified as first-degree theft, which is a class B felony. First-degree theft is punishable by a fine of up to $30,000 and a minimum of two years to a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.

What Are the Potential Civil Penalties?

Sometimes, shoplifters can be punished by criminal and civil penalties. Therefore, if you commit a shoplifting theft offense, you can be held civilly liable for your actions. If the property you stole is no longer in sellable condition, you can be ordered to reimburse the store owner for the full retail value of the property. In some cases, you may even be ordered to reimburse the store owner for up to $200 in expenses incurred to recover the shoplifted property. Furthermore, you could be ordered to pay $1,000 to cover the store owner’s legal costs.

As you can see, theft convictions carry harsh penalties that can disrupt various aspects of your life. If you’ve been charged with shoplifting or another theft crime, it’s in your best interest to contact a dedicated Baldwin County criminal defense lawyer who can defend your rights and interests. At The Law Office of James M. Burns, we are prepared to effectively fight for you to shield you from your charges.