Shoplifting Charges: What You Need to Know

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “If I have an outstanding warrant, what should I do?”

More and more stores are adding extra technology that enables them to catch shoplifters in their establishments. If you are charged with shoplifting it can have a negative impact on your life for years in the future. A shoplifting conviction can result in a variety of penalties such as fines, community service, probation, and more. In some cases, you might even end up with a jail sentence. Worst of all, a conviction will be on your record, which may cause you problems with finding employment, renting an apartment, and more. If you are charged with shoplifting, you can fight the charges with help from an experienced criminal defense attorney.


Should I Defend Shoplifting Charges?

Shoplifting charges can result in a criminal record if you are convicted. Shoplifting may include concealment and larceny charges. While it may be easier and less expensive to simply plead guilty and pay the fine, you may want to consider the long-term consequences. Criminal shoplifting may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanor charges generally apply when the merchandise has a value of less than $1,000. If the merchandise is more than $1,000 it may be a felony.



Consequences of a Shoplifting Conviction

The penalties for a shoplifting conviction depend on a variety of factors. For a misdemeanor shoplifting charge, you will likely face some jail time or up to 24 hours of community service for a first offense, along with fines. The penalties increase for felony charges and for those who have prior similar criminal convictions. Typically, the judge will order the defendant to community service for a first offense. Some defendants may be required to participate in a theft awareness class. Theft awareness classes are offered online, and the defendant must pay for the course themselves.


Will I Face Civil Action?

A retail store may request payment from you following shoplifting charges. Sometimes, the amount they request is $100 or more. It is important to know that the store cannot enforce payment unless they file and win a lawsuit. Many times, retail establishments do not want to expend the money and resources necessary to file a legal claim. However, the amount they initially request may be much less than what they might collect if they win a judgment.


Defending Shoplifting Charges

In most instances, you will want to defend shoplifting charges rather than simply pleading guilty. In order to prove the charges against you the prosecutor must show that you willfully concealed merchandise from a store without authority and without having paid for it. (G.S. 14-72.1) There are ways to defend the charges. One defense to provide is lack of intent. If you did not intend to shoplift it means you took the items accidentally. Another way to defend the charges is to discredit the witnesses or the integrity of video surveillance. In some instances, your attorney can help get the charges reduced or dropped.


If you or a loved one is charged with shoplifting, you will want to take the situation seriously. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will guide the process and present the best defense to the charges. Contact our attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 to discuss your case today.






The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may face include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights and stand at the ready to fight in defense of those facing criminal charges.



G.S. 14-72.1 (

larceny | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (


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