Shoplifting is defined as taking products from a retail store without paying. While it might seem like a minor offense, it’s taken very seriously in Kentucky. The state permits store employees to detain you and allows officers to arrest you even on suspicion that you were shoplifting.
That’s not all, though, because you can face shoplifting charges even if you did not directly commit the crime. For example, you may be charged with associated shoplifting charges for accompanying a shoplifter. Other less obvious examples include opening, using or consuming food merchandise inside the store without payment or changing price tags on items.
You can even be arrested and charged with shoplifting if the store staff or police officers have reason to suspect that you did not intend to pay.
However, in some of these situations, evidence is relatively limited and usually difficult for the prosecution to prove.
If you’ve been arrested or charged with stealing merchandise from a store in Lexington, KY, enlist the help of an experienced Kentucky shoplifting defense lawyer at Dan Carman, PLLC.
Understanding Kentucky’s Shoplifting Laws
Kentucky does not have a rule or regulation specifically targeting shoplifters. Rather, individuals caught stealing merchandise from retailers are charged with theft by unlawful taking or disposition.
This Kentucky law explains that an individual is convicted only if a prosecutor can demonstrate that they unlawfully . . .
- Took or exercised control over someone else’s movable property intending to deprive them of it; or
- Obtained someone else’s immovable property intending to benefit themselves or another unentitled party.
Courts usually classify shoplifting as a Class A misdemeanor. However, the prosecution can upgrade it to a Class D felony if the property is worth between $500 and $10,000 or is a firearm. It becomes a Class C felony when the value of the stolen goods is worth more than $10,000 but less than $1 million.
Penalties for Shoplifting in Lexington
Convictions for shoplifting offenses usually result in hefty fines and jail time. Shoplifting penalties vary based on the cost of the merchandise you are accused of stealing and other factors, like your criminal history and conduct during the incident and ensuing events. They include:
- A Class A misdemeanor charge for stealing merchandise valued at less than $500. It is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and one year or less of jail time.
- A Class D felony charge for merchandise worth over $500 and under $10,000. It is punishable by 1–5 years of jail time.
- A Class C felony charge if the value of goods is above $10,000 and below $1,000,000. The punishment for this crime includes a 5−10 year jail sentence plus a fine equivalent to double the amount stolen or $10,000 (whichever is greater).
- A Class B felony if the value of stolen items is $1,000,000 or more. It is punishable by 10−20 years in jail.
Being charged with shoplifting damages your reputation and changes how family and friends see you. However, the long-term consequences on employment opportunities are worse.
Since people convicted of this charge in Kentucky get a permanent criminal record, they experience many consequences. These include trouble landing a job, professional licensing problems, difficulty finding accommodations, trouble obtaining student loans, loss of gun ownership rights, immigration issues and harsher future punishments if they get into trouble with the law again.
Possible Shoplifting Mitigating Factors in Kentucky
Shoplifting in Kentucky commands multiple penalties. However, there are several defense strategies that a Lexington shoplifting lawyer may assert to drop or lessen the charges against you. Some of them are:
Perpetrators struggling with mental illness, those on antidepressants or similar medications and those battling anxiety or personality disorders that may alter appropriate decision making may receive a lighter punishment.
Lack of Evidence
Convicting someone of shoplifting in Kentucky requires proof of their guilt beyond doubt. Prosecutors may present witness testimony, surveillance footage or GPS data to achieve this. However, a skilled lawyer for shoplifting charges may argue that the prosecutor does not have enough evidence, convincing the jury to acquit.
Shoplifting out of necessity, such as to feed oneself or children, is usually understood in a courtroom.
Sometimes, the perpetrator of a shoplifting crime may have been forced to do so by another party. The case may be thrown out if defense attorneys can prove that their client broke the law only because of fear of violent threats.
Will a Shoplifting Charge Ruin My Life?
A shoplifting charge is unlikely to ruin your life, but it can make it more difficult. A person convicted of shoplifting or theft is seen as dishonest. Such a conviction can have short- and long-term negative consequences in many aspects of life, including:
A person convicted of shoplifting may lose their current job or be unable to obtain a new job. Recruiters usually run background checks on potential employees to check for such crimes, and there’s always a concern that someone who committed a theft in the past may do so in the future. Even the least serious misdemeanor theft conviction can disqualify a person from a job.
Obtaining professional licenses — such as those needed to practice medicine or law — requires a show of good character. Sometimes, a shoplifting conviction is enough to prevent a person from passing that aspect of the licensing process.
Even a very minor theft conviction can have profound immigration consequences, such as preventing a person from obtaining citizenship or causing them to be deported.
A shoplifting conviction may also make it hard for you to find accommodations, obtain student loans or exercise your gun ownership rights.
How Dan Carman Can Help After a Shoplifting Charge
Shoplifting charges in Lexington, KY, can sometimes lead to severe consequences. Hence, you need the best shoplifting charges defense lawyer on your side. Whether you committed the crime or are accused falsely, remember never to plead guilty to the charges, not to give out any specific details of the case and to immediately contact our shoplifting lawyers in Lexington, KY.
How do you beat a shoplifting charge?
It’s unlikely you will be able to beat a shoplifting charge on your own. Your best bet is staying silent and getting a skilled criminal defense lawyer.
Do first-time shoplifters go to jail?
Incarceration for first-time shoplifting or any minor misdemeanor theft offense is uncommon. The prevailing notion is that a criminal defendant gets a second chance for a first offense. That said, the eventual penalty will depend on the worth of the merchandise stolen and the circumstances surrounding the theft.
Can a lawyer get you out of a shoplifting charge?
An experienced shoplifting defense lawyer is your best bet at fighting a charge. They may be able to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor or even get your charges dropped.
Will I go to jail if I shoplift?
It depends. Penalties for shoplifting range from fines to jail time, depending on the circumstances of the theft. If you’re charged for petty theft, you’ll likely get a lesser penalty than a felony, for example. The latter can result in jail time.
Should I confess to shoplifting?
If you are accused of stealing, remember that you do not have to speak to the security guards or police officers. They might even say that they have conclusive evidence against you, hoping that you admit to the crime. It is a trick to get you to give in.
How to get a shoplifting charge dismissed?
Your first step to getting a shoplifting charge dismissed is to hire an attorney. A skilled attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce the charge to a less serious offense or get it dismissed entirely.
What level of crime is shoplifting?
Shoplifting is one of the many offenses considered theft. It can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony offense depending on the value of the property stolen.