Southaven, MS Shoplifting Attorney
According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, about $13 billion worth of items are stolen from retailers each and every year, and while one in eleven people will commit the crime of shoplifting at some point in their lives, only about 10 million have actually been caught shoplifting over the past five years. This translates into about one in 48 shoplifters being caught, with about half of those being prosecuted by the police. People shoplift for many reasons, some because they simply want the item they took and did not want to pay for it. Others had no intention of shoplifting, rather were distracted by a child or something else and forgot to pay for the item. Still others shoplift out of real need, as evidenced by the fact that infant formula and meat often top the lists for most shoplifted items.
In the Southaven, MS area, targets of shoplifters are often stores like Wal-Mart, Kohls, Lowe’s, the shops in the Southaven Towne Centre, and those in the New Tanger Outlet such as: Banana Republic, Clark’s Outlet, J.Crew, the Nike Factory Store, Wilson’s Leather, the Kitchen Collection and more. Many believe shoplifting is a victimless crime, however the cumulative effect of those thefts can be significant. About 25 percent of shoplifters are underage, and most shoplifters do not commit any other type of crime.
What Constitutes Shoplifting in the State of Mississippi?
Shoplifting is defined under Mississippi code as:
- Hiding or concealing items which you have not paid for
- Removing any item from a store which you have not paid for
- Switching tags from a lesser-priced item to a more expensive item
- Putting merchandise into a different container
- Causing a cash register to “under-ring” your items
It is also illegal in Mississippi to use any type of device which could aid in shoplifting. These devices could include tools which can remove security tags, or specially-lined bags which prevent security alarms from going off if a person walks out with unpaid-for items.
Southaven, MS Shoplifting Penalties
It is extremely important that you not take your shoplifting charges lightly. The penalties for shoplifting can be serious, and you should take the charges very seriously yourself. Penalties associated with shoplifting in Southaven include:
- If it is your first offense, and you have taken an item valued at less than $1,000, you will be charged with a misdemeanor and could potentially face jail time up to six months and or a fine as large as $1,000.
- If merchandise valued at less than $1,000 is taken, but you have two or more prior shoplifting convictions, you could be charged with a felony, and could face jail time up to five years, and a fine as large as $5,000.
- If you have shoplifted merchandise valued at more than $1,000, you could face felony charges, and, if convicted, jail time of up to ten years, and/or fines up to $10,000.
In addition to the criminal penalties you could face for a Southaven shoplifting conviction, adults or emancipated minors who shoplift could be civilly liable. Merchants are allowed to bring a lawsuit after notifying the person they intend to do so in writing and allowing the person 30 days to make restitution. Merchants are entitled to three times the actual damages or $200, whichever is greater, in addition to attorney fees and court costs.
Pre-Trial Diversion Programs for Southaven, MS Shoplifting Charges
You might be eligible for a pretrial diversion program or a pretrial intervention program, depending on the circumstances surrounding your charges. These programs allow you to fulfill all the requirements such as community service, probation and restitution, then have your criminal charges dropped. If a pre-trial diversion or intervention program is not available, your attorney may be able to plea bargain on your behalf in order to have your charges reduced, and/or receive a lesser sentence.
Other Potential Defenses to Southaven, MS Shoplifting Charges
An attorney from The Stroud Law Firm will look at your shoplifting charges from every angle, in order to build the best defense possible for you. Assuming everything in the police reports is accurate, our attorneys will determine whether it adds up to the elements of the crime you are charged with. Can it be shown you had specific intent to shoplift, or was it an accident or mistake on your part? Perhaps witness statements conflict with what the shop owner claims, or we can show that the store security officer did not act appropriately and within the law, or used excessive force.
Of course your case is unique, and we will consider the circumstances surrounding your charges, but The Stroud Law Firm will work hard on your behalf to keep your shoplifting charges from completely derailing your future. We understand that a conviction for shoplifting could potentially affect your future employment or even your current employment. In order to improve the outlook for your Southaven, MS shoplifting charges, call The Stroud Law Firm today at (662) 536-5656.