Shoplifting is one of the most common forms of theft prosecuted in Missouri. Retail establishments have started cracking down on shoplifting in recent months, especially on cases they believe relate to organized retail theft. People ranging from impulsive teenagers to organized groups of adults may steal from stores. Any attempt to take merchandise from a business without paying for it or without paying the full retail price for the item could lead to shoplifting charges.
Those accused of shoplifting often assume that any penalties that they might face will be minor. However, Missouri state prosecutors may file the harshest charges possible, and a judge can potentially sentence someone as they see fit after a guilty plea or conviction.
Repeat or high-value offenses could lead to a felony charge
Missouri’s laws on theft create very clear rules for when theft becomes a felony. Minor or petty theft offenses usually lead to misdemeanor criminal charges. However, once the total value of the property stolen reaches $750, prosecutors can pursue low-level felony charges against the person accused.
As the value of the merchandise increases, the severity of the felony offense can increase as well. Particularly when retail establishments accuse people of taking high-value merchandise or when there is video surveillance footage allegedly showing multiple shoplifting incidents, people may end up facing felony charges for what they believe is a minor and victimless crime. Those accused of involvement in organized operations could potentially face additional charges beyond just theft.
Making sense of Missouri’s unique theft and shoplifting laws may benefit those worried after a recent arrest. Seeking legal guidance can help an individual to approach their situation in informed ways and better safeguard their rights accordingly.