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Myths about shoplifting charges

Fotolia_92117541_Shoplifting.jpgThink that shoplifting is not a big deal or that it doesn't hurt anyone. Think again. Retailers lose billions each year in retail theft.

Shoplifting is theft - even if it involves something seemingly minor like a purse, makeup or a bottle of wine.

It's just a minor slap on the wrist

Wrong, the severity of the charge depends on the value of the item or items taken. Generally, the line separating a misdemeanor from a felony charge is $2,500. But first-degree felony charges are possible.

Here is a one scenario. Haley, a 21-year-old college student and her friend are shopping at the mall. She falls in love with a pair of expensive sunglasses, but cannot afford them. The two young women find a way to sneak the sunglasses out of the store. If caught on their way to the parking lot, store security could refer the matter to a local prosecutor.

No one cares about a shoplifting charge

Wrong again. The value of the sunglasses could lead to a class B misdemeanor. Fines and jail time are possible if convicted.

Theft is classified as a crime of moral turpitude. Even a charge can leave a black mark in regards to your character and trustworthiness.

A conviction or no contest-type plea could disqualify you from certain graduate or professional programs. It could also prevent you from obtaining a license in your choosen field.

Consequences of a charge and/or conviction can cascade into long-term problems. Many employers run background checks as part of the hiring process. In a competitive market, this added hurdle couple prevent you from getting an offer. Rental companies check criminal records before making decisions too.

Your life is over

While you need to take charges seriously, your life is not over. Immediate action maybe necessary to limit the consequences however.

The first step is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the local courts and handles similar issues every day. You may qualify for a "first offender program." In other cases, non-disclosure might be an option that could protect your reputation moving forward.

As former prosecutors, the attorneys at the Mingledorff Law Firm can provide reliable counsel. They are able to review your case from all angles and obtain the best possible outcome to protect your future.

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