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What Should I Do If I've Been Arrested For Shoplifting?

If charged with shoplifting, you should first seek legal assistance.
Counseling might help if shoplifting becomes compulsive.
The severity of the shoplifting charge will depend on the value of the stolen item.
Group counseling might be an option for someone with a shoplifting addiction.
Remaining calm and cooperative during an arrest will prevent additional charges from being added.
Someone arrested for shoplifting should try to get the charges dropped or reduced.
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  • Written By: T. Webster
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2014
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Shoplifting is a criminal charge that results when a person is accused of stealing or attempting to steal from a store. The offense often happens when a person walks out of a store without paying for an item. Shoplifting also includes changing a price tag to get a lower price, leaving a restaurant without paying a bill, or eating food in a grocery store without paying for it. Whatever the reason, the first thing to do if you have been arrested for shoplifting is to hire an attorney or enlist the help of another legal professional.

The severity of a shoplifting charge largely depends on the total value of the stolen goods and whether there is a prior record, especially for shoplifting. Typically, shoplifting is a lower-level criminal charge, but it can carry serious consequences. Try to find an attorney who will fight to get the charge dismissed or reduced. A criminal record that includes shoplifting might limit your options for obtaining employment, credit, or a college education.

If you are arrested, you'll want to try to get the charge dismissed. Pleading guilty to a shoplifting charge can place the conviction on your permanent criminal record. If a dismissal is not an option, your attorney might attempt to get the shoplifting charge reduced to a lesser charge. Be prepared to pay any related court fines and attorney’s fees, and some stores might also require restitution for the stolen items.

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Age is another factor. Young people might receive a warning or a reduced sentence if they have no prior shoplifting record. On the other hand, a youth might be required to perform community service or attend a rehabilitation program, such as a boot camp. In some cases, shoplifting arrest records for those under the age of 18 might be sealed, meaning that members of the general public will not be able to access the record. That way, the charge does not have a lifelong impact by creating a criminal record.

You might want to consider counseling if you are arrested for shoplifting. In some cases, shoplifting begins as a bad habit and grows into an addiction or compulsion. If shoplifting is an ongoing or longstanding problem, professional counseling could help. A professional counselor can help uncover the reasons why you are stealing, including if you're doing it because of boredom, depression, or just to try to get away with it.

Other options include Internet-based support or counseling groups designed for shoplifters. Be sure to understand the confidentiality of any information obtained by group counseling or Internet-based counseling. Also check whether the counseling is performed by professional counselors or volunteers. A benefit of seeking some form of counseling is that it can help deter you from shoplifting again.

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Discuss this Article

VictorMan
Post 3

I was caught shoplifting at Tesco in December 2012 a day after losing my job. Since then, I have found it had to find another job and it is telling on me. Does it mean that my data is accessed by employers even before they call me for interviews?

The police guy tried to plead on my behalf but they cornered him and convinced him. Actually, I must tell the truth here because I need honest advice. He came back to me not very happy when I asked him what the staff said. He said that they refused because they believe that I have been doing it for a long time. it wasn't true. It was a complete lack of judgment after I lost my job of five years and with children to feed, I thought of how to economise and all I did was to think of taking some food stuff from Tesco and buying some.

Now, I've paid over £180 to Tesco for a £35 worth of goods and £80 for the police fine. They deceived me by saying that it ends there once I paid all the fines. I did not go to the police station. I have lived with this horror for the past year now and no hour has passed without this nonsense coming into my head every day.

Now, even my own money can't get me a trade permit to open my business because they keep referring to a criminal conviction. How come they put it in my record and deceived me that paying the fines will end it? I was truly a zombie of the law.

anon326709
Post 2

I had a clean record. I never got involved in any crime, minor or serious, ever.

A few days back, I was caught for shoplifting $62 worth stuff and was arrested. I was asked to provide my personal information (address, DOB, phone number) and the police let me go in a few hours after all the paperwork, but with a ticket to appear in a court and I will have a lawyer for myself there.

Since it is not a felony, the cops told me I will have pay some amount of money and do some community service. I am a student on an F-1 visa and have already applied for my PhD for this year. I don’t want any problems with my visa upgrade, and getting my PhD, just because of this case. Please let me know if this can affect my visa process like delay in visa and any semester loss because of this?

anon274799
Post 1

My friend changed a price tag in TJ Maxx they took her in the office and gave her a letter saying they will send a letter and she has to pay damages.

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