Shoplifting in DeSoto County, Mississippi
If you have been charged with shoplifting in DeSoto, MS, you are likely unsure of what your future holds. You may wonder whether your charges are serious enough to contact a DeSoto County criminal defense attorney, or whether you should try to handle the charges on your own. While the charge of shoplifting may seem relatively minor, in fact a conviction for shoplifting can result in jail or prison time, fines, as well as consequences not associated with criminal penalties. These consequences could include:
- The inability to obtain employment, due to the fact that prospective employers can look up your criminal history and may deny you a job you are otherwise well-qualified for;
- The inability to obtain a professional license;
- The inability, in some cases, to rent a home or apartment, and
- The inability to obtain a governmental student loan in order to further your education.
You could also find yourself facing social stigma once people find out you have been convicted of shoplifting in DeSoto County, MS. Perhaps you simply made a bad decision, and now wonder if that mistake will completely derail your future. Or perhaps you truly did not intent to take the item from the store, but simply forgot you were holding it. Whatever your particular story, The Stroud Law Firm can help you during this difficult time.
Our attorneys fully understand the best avenues to minimize the long-term consequences of your DeSoto Shoplifting charges. Perhaps you were arrested for shoplifting at the Southaven Tanger Outlets, just outside Memphis, TN, or at one of the several Wal-Mart stores in DeSoto County, the Target, Sears, Dollar General, or other retail stores. No matter the place or the circumstances, The Stroud Law Firm can help you.
Can I be convicted of shoplifting when I never left the store with the merchandise?
Mississippi Shoplifting Laws
Willfully and knowingly taking possession of merchandise without paying for it is considered shoplifting in the state of Mississippi. More specifically, the crime of shoplifting in DeSoto County includes the following:
- Taking merchandise which was not paid for out of a store
- Concealing merchandise which has not been paid for
- Switching price tags from a less expensive item to a more expensive item
- Transferring un purchased merchandise from one container to another
- Causing the cash register to reflect a price which is less than the merchant’s stated price for merchandise which has not been paid for.
Penalties for a DeSoto Shoplifting Conviction
House Bill 585 was passed by the Mississippi legislature in 2014, making certain changes to Mississippi shoplifting laws. Prior to these changes, if the item stolen was worth less than $500, it was considered a misdemeanor, with the potential of a six-month jail sentence. If the item stolen was worth more than $500, the crime became a felony, with the potential of up to ten years in state prison. HB585 raised the threshold from $500 to $1,000, before the crime of shoplifting would be considered a felony. Once it does become a felony (shoplifting merchandise worth more than $1,000), The penalty is the same as for a Mississippi conviction of grand larceny—from 5 years in state prison and up to a $10,000 fine, to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
A first-time offense of shoplifting is considered a misdemeanor, carrying a fine up to $1,000, and/or one year of probation. For a person facing a third conviction for shoplifting within a five-year period, a three-year prison sentence is possible.
Civil Liability in Addition to Criminal Penalties
Adult shoplifters and the parents of minor shoplifters may also face civil penalties; the merchant may bring a lawsuit against the shoplifter in civil court. If successful, the merchant is entitled to twice the actual amount of damages sustained, as well as court fees and attorney fees. The person or entity who owns the merchandise taken by the shoplifter is entitled to recover these damages whether the item or items are returned to the owner or not.
The owner of the merchandise is required to send a letter requesting damages to the offender, allowing him or her thirty days in which to pay the civil damages prior to filing a civil action for damages. In the case of a child under the age of 18 who resides with his or her parents, the parents cannot be held civilly liable unless it can be shown the parent was aware the minor was taking items he or she did not pay for or if the parent in some way assisted the child in taking items not paid for.
How a DeSoto County, MS Attorney Can Help You Obtain a Better Outcome
The attorneys at The Stroud Law Firm understand that good people can make choices they later regret. Rather than judging you, we will go to work immediately to build a solid case on your behalf, preserving your rights and protecting your future. Our attorneys will investigate the facts of your case, in order to determine whether there are compelling reasons your case should be dismissed prior to trial.
If the charges cannot be dismissed, we will negotiate the best plea deal possible, on your behalf. If the charges cannot be dismissed and a plea deal is forthcoming, or if you believe you have been wrongly accused, the attorneys at the Stroud Law Firm can skillfully litigate your case at trial. Call The Stroud Law Firm today at (662) 536-5656.