FAQ - Shoplifting In Columbus And Central Ohio
Q: Do stores always file criminal charges when an individual is caught shoplifting?
A: Not always. In Ohio, the law allows retail stores to detain an individual suspected of shoplifting. Each store has its own policy for determining whether or not to file formal charges. Sometimes stores in Columbus and the central Ohio area choose to handle a shoplifting situation internally and not involve the police or the courts. In other cases, however, stores choose to contact the police and/or file formal criminal charges with the appropriate court. It is the policy of many stores to file charges and prosecute every individual suspected of shoplifting, without regard to the value of the stolen items. Other stores will only prosecute individuals suspected of stealing items over a certain value.
Q: What criminal charges are associated with shoplifting?
A: The charge filed in Ohio for shoplifting is called “Theft”. Depending upon the value of the item(s) stolen, a theft charge can be a misdemeanor or a felony. An individual charged with theft may also face additional charges, depending upon the circumstances surrounding the crime. For example, if a tool such as a knife or razor blade is used during the act of stealing, a charge of “Possessing Criminal Tools” may be added. In addition, suspects are sometimes charged with Disorderly Conduct when acting uncooperative and Falsification for giving false information.
Q: What are the penalties for shoplifting?
A: The potential penalties depend on the level of the theft offense charged. Most shoplifting cases in Ohio are classified as misdemeanors of the first degree. The potential sentence for a first degree misdemeanor conviction may include a jail sentence of up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, and up to five years of probation. If the value of the stolen item(s) is over $1,000, Theft is classified as a felony. The potential sentence for a felony Theft charge is increasingly severe. A theft conviction becomes part of one’s permanent record if it is not later sealed/expunged. In addition to filing criminal charges, the store may also pursue a civil lawsuit and collect money from the shoplifter based upon the value of the stolen items.
Q: When will I receive notice I am charged with shoplifting?
A: It depends. Sometimes people accused of shoplifting receive a complaint charging them with theft before leaving the store. Other times, the complaint is delivered at a later date. If the complaint is delivered later, it may take days, weeks, or months. If the charge is a misdemeanor, the deadline for filing the complaint, the statute of limitations, is two years.
Q: How do I address a shoplifting charge in court?
A: Depending on the circumstances, a first-offender may be able to resolve a shoplifting case by completing a diversion program. If a defendant is accepted into a diversion program, and if the requirements of the program are fulfilled, the theft charge is dismissed. If a diversion program is not an option, defendants are given the choices of pleading guilty, pleading no contest, and pleading not guilty.
Q: Should I hire an attorney for my shoplifting case?
A: It is often beneficial to hire a good lawyer for a shoplifting case in Ohio. A lawyer may be necessary to be screened for a diversion program. If you are not accepted into a diversion program, a lawyer can be very helpful to present a defense to the charge as well as information to mitigate any sentence. It is important that your attorney has experience handling shoplifting offenses and regularly handles these types of cases.
Shawn Dominy is a criminal defense lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, and he regularly represents clients charged with shoplifting and theft offenses. To learn more about Shawn Dominy, please see this site's attorney profile. You can also see what clients say about Shawn Dominy's representation. If you would like to discuss how Shawn Dominy can help with your shoplifting charge in Columbus or central Ohio, please call 614-717-1177 or email the Dominy Law Firm to arrange a free consultation.