Shoplifting and theft are the most commonly prosecuted property crimes in the world. Whether you left a store and forgot to pay for an item or maybe you simply acted on a crazy impulse, you are still at risk of facing a jail term. Shoplifting is categorized under the retail fraud law section. According to the law, retail fraud is committed when an individual alters or removes the price tags of items in a store, steals property, or attempts to receive a refund or exchange for non-purchased store items with the intent to defraud the retailer.
When facing a first time shoplifting charge, you may assume that you will receive a lighter sentence due to lack of a prior criminal record. While this can help you be on the safer side, it’s important to know that there are various factors that can influence a judge’s decision, and that there will still be consequences for your actions. One, shoplifting is considered as a misdemeanour or a felony, which depends on the amount of the alleged theft. In case you are charged with felony shoplifting, you will be at a high risk of facing a jail term. If you are charged with misdemeanour shoplifting, you are at a lower risk of getting a jail time, which depends on the court decision. Two, your age can also have an impact on your charges.
All in all, shoplifting charges are often considered as some of the most minor criminal offences and therefore rarely results in prison time. As a first time offender, you may also be eligible to have the charge diverted from the court system resulting in the withdrawal of the charges. In case the judge deems the incident as minor in nature, you may be lucky to be allowed to participate in a diversion program. Diversion programs often include tasks like engaging in community service or watching a video about the severity of shoplifting charges.
The fact that you are facing a first time shoplifting charge doesn’t mean that you deserve to be treated like a criminal. You also have the option to look for legal representation. It’s important that you consult a qualified and experienced shoplifting attorney in Orlando who can guide you through the complexities of the law. Although a diversion program is not always offered immediately by the prosecutor, a lawyer is in a better position to enroll you in the program. In case you are completely innocent, an experienced lawyer can help you obtain full exoneration, thereby dropping the criminal charges without the impact of a criminal record. An experienced lawyer can also help you avoid jail time by paying a fine.
Remember that although shoplifting is not seen as a big deal, first time offence can carry heavy repercussions regardless of the cost of the item. You are not only at a high-risk of getting a jail time or paying a hefty fine, but also, you can get a permanent criminal record that can follow your whole life. You are innocent until proven guilty and therefore, ensure that your rights are defended properly by an experienced lawyer.