Olive Branch Shoplifting Charge Attorney
If you have been charged with shoplifting in Olive Branch, MS, you are likely anxious, worried and frightened and are unsure what will happen and what you need to do. According to statistics, more than ten million people have been caught shoplifting over the past five years; about 25 percent of those were children or teens, while 75 percent were adults. Shoplifting is rarely a premeditated crime—about 73 percent of all those who shoplift had no intention of stealing when they went in the store. In today’s economy, many of those who shoplift are doing so out of financial need rather than in response to social or personal pressures.
This fact is backed up by the most commonly shoplifted items: meat, razors and baby formula. Wal-Mart stores, such as the Olive Branch Wal-Mart, or the Olive Branch Target are stores which are often targeted by shoplifters, as are grocery stores such as the Olive Branch Kroger’s or the Olive Branch Piggly Wiggly. Malls are also targets for shoplifters in many instances. In any case, you are not a statistic. You are a real person with a real problem. Whether you took something which did not belong to you on impulse, or out of financial need, or if you truly forgot to pay for an item then were charged with shoplifting, you need experienced legal assistance.
Consequences of an Olive Branch Shoplifting Conviction
If this is the first time you have ever been arrested for shoplifting, you may be especially anxious, with little knowledge of what lies ahead. In the state of Mississippi, if you are convicted of shoplifting merchandise valued at $500 or less, you could face a fine as large as $1,000, and a jail sentence of up to six months. A guilty verdict—or a plea of guilty from you—could leave you with a permanent misdemeanor criminal conviction.
For merchandise which is valued at more than $500, you will be charged with a felony crime, and could face fines as large as $10,000, and ten years in prison. If you are convicted of shoplifting merchandise valued at $500 or less, but have two or more prior shoplifting convictions, you could face jail time of up to five years and/or a fine as large as $5,000. As you can see a shoplifting conviction can have extremely serious consequences, both criminal and personal.
A criminal conviction for shoplifting—even a misdemeanor—goes on your permanent criminal record. Since prospective employers are now able to access this information, having a shoplifting conviction could potentially prevent you from obtaining jobs you are otherwise well-qualified for. You could also find yourself unable to obtain a government student loan in order to attend college, and possibly even unable to obtain a professional license. You could also find yourself civilly liable to the merchant, who can sue in civil court, and who are legally entitled to three times the actual damages sustained, or $200, whichever is greater plus court costs and attorney fees.
Programs Available for a First-Time Olive Branch Shoplifting Offender
If, however, you have an experienced Olive Branch attorney by your side throughout the entire process, your attorney may be able to keep the shoplifting charge off your record, and keep you out of jail. There are diversion programs available, which are a special type of probation, as well as community service and restitution. With such a deal, the charges could be dismissed, and cleared from your record. In fact, having an Olive Branch criminal defense attorney representing you is the best way to ensure you get the best deal possible, and that the arrest and charges are expunged from your record.
What Constitutes Shoplifting in Mississippi?
Under Mississippi law, shoplifting is defined in the following manner:
- Hiding merchandise which you have not paid for;
- Taking merchandise out of the store that you have not paid for;
- Removing anti-theft devices;
- Altering price tags;
- Changing containers for merchandise, or
- Switching price tags on merchandise.
Merchants are legally allowed to question an individual who is suspected of shoplifting, although the questioning must be done in a reasonable manner.
Legal Help for Your Injuries
If you have been arrested and charged with shoplifting in Olive Branch, it is imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney from Stroud, Flechas & Dalton. We can clearly explain your options, and discuss negotiating a plea bargain, if that is the direction you would like to go. If you believe you are absolutely innocent of the charges, we will defend you to the extent of our capabilities. We understand that being charged, and facing a judge in court is embarrassing as well as stressful, and the prospect of a permanent conviction is even more anxiety-inducing.
Our Olive Branch attorneys can also help you have your shoplifting record expunged, if you meet all the requirements. Expungement could allow you to regain the status you held prior to being charged, and prevent you from disclosing the facts of your shoplifting charges to anyone, including prospective employers. Call Stroud, Flechas & Dalton at (662) 536-5656. Our attorneys will treat you with respect and compassion and will work hard on your behalf to obtain the best outcome possible.