Hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to avoid having a shoplifting conviction on your criminal record.
Don’t Plead Guilty to Shoplifting
If you go to court on your own without an attorney and plead guilty to shoplifting, you will end up with a conviction for stealing that will show up on your permanent criminal record.
Having a stealing conviction on your criminal record will prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, obtaining a bank loan, or getting federal student aid for college.
Why You Should Hire An Attorney To Help With Your Stealing Charge
An experienced attorney who has represented a lot of Missouri defendants charged with stealing can give you the best estimate of the most likely outcome of your case.
In some cases, it may be in your best interest to plead not guilty and take your case to trial, while in other situations, your best option may be to have your attorney negotiate a plea bargain deal with the Prosecutor.
Discuss your case with an experienced attorney before deciding what to do. Most criminal defense attorneys will offer a free consultation and give you an estimate of the outcome of your case, along with a flat-fee price quote for how much they will charge to represent you.
Here are some possible outcomes for defendants who are represented by an experienced shoplifting attorney for their Missouri misdemeanor shoplifting charge:
- The charge is dismissed after defendant completes the “Theft Offender” class and pays court costs, or
- The charge is dismissed after defendant completes a few hours of community service and pays court costs, or
- The charge is reduced to a lesser offense, such as “Littering,” after defendant pays a fine and court costs, or
- The charge is dismissed after defendant completes a period of probation and pays court costs but is not required to pay a fine
What Is The Punishment for Shoplifting or Stealing Under $500 in Missouri?
The maximum sentence for shoplifting in Missouri is 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Misdemeanor shoplifting is sometimes charged as “Stealing Under $500,” “Petty Larceny,” or “Petty Theft.”
The Prosecutor may charge you with “Misdemeanor Stealing” for stealing items valued under $500.
The Prosecutor may charge you with “Felony Stealing” for stealing items valued at $500 or more.
PLEASE NOTE: If you have are charged with misdemeanor stealing for the 4th time within 10 years, the Prosecuting Attorney must charge you with Felony Stealing, which is a much more serious charge than misdemeanor stealing.
Jail Time Is a Possibility for Misdemeanor Shoplifting in Missouri
As noted above, the maximum penalty in Missouri for misdemeanor shoplifting is 1 year in jail. However, a 1-year jail sentence for shoplifting is not likely unless you have multiple prior stealing convictions and you don’t have an experienced attorney representing you.
WARNING: In some Missouri courts, the Prosecutor will not dismiss or reduce shoplifting charges to a lesser offense, even if the defendant has no prior convictions and is represented by an attorney. If your case is in a court in which the Prosecutor does not dismiss or amend shoplifting charges, your attorney will have to negotiate directly with the judge for a reduction in jail time.
No Jail Time for Stealing Under $150
A new law took effect in Missouri on January 1, 2017 stating that the maximum penalty for first-time offenders accused of misdemeanor “Stealing Under $150” is a $500 fine but no jail time.
See my previous blog post “No Jail Time For Stealing Under $150” for more information about this new Missouri shoplifting law.
Should You Pay the “Civil Demand” If You Are Caught Shoplifting?
After being arrested for shoplifting, the store where you were caught stealing will send you a “Civil Demand” letter, stating that you owe the store $250 to reimburse them for their expenses.
Most experienced attorneys advise their clients to refuse to pay the civil demand. Whether or not you pay the civil demand will have no effect on your criminal shoplifting case.
You don’t owe the store anything unless the store sues you and wins a judgment against you in civil court. Most stores don’t sue shoplifters who steal items valued under $500 because a lawsuit costs the store more than the judgment is worth, and because it is time-consuming for the store to collect on a judgment.
See my previous blog post “What To Do If You Are Charged With Shoplifting” for more information about “Civil Demand” letters.
Call St. Louis shoplifting attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or email Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation about your case. Andrea can give you an estimate of the outcome of your case and a flat-fee price quote for legal representation.
A Missouri criminal background check can reveal both open and closed criminal records, but the detail of the information disclosed depends on who is requesting the information.
You Need to Know What’s On Your Criminal Background Report
It’s a good idea to obtain a copy of your criminal background report, just so you know exactly what will be revealed to potential employers, colleges, landlords, banks, etc.
It’s very common for someone to have been charged with a crime in the past (shoplifting, marijuana possession, under-age drinking) and think the charge has been dropped or “sealed” but later discover that an arrest or conviction is showing up on their criminal background report.
If you know exactly what is on your criminal background report, you will be prepared to explain to potential employers about a previous criminal charge or arrest. It’s better to explain in advance about being arrested or charged with a crime, rather than look like a liar because you incorrectly claimed to have a clean criminal record.
The Difference Between Open and Closed Criminal Records
A Basic Name Search criminal background report shows open records only.
A Fingerprint Search criminal background report shows both open and closed records.
When you have been charged with a crime but the case is not resolved yet, your case is an open pending case, which is an open record.
Closed records show what happened in the past. So, if you were arrested but the Prosecutor dismissed the charge, you pleaded guilty, or the Prosecutor reduced the charge to a lesser offense, the case is closed and that is a closed record.
EXAMPLE: If you were not arrested but you were charged with shoplifting and you hired an attorney who got the charge dismissed, a Basic Name Search will show nothing. A Fingerprint Search will reveal that you were charged with shoplifting and the case was dismissed, but only if the requesting entity is the type of employer that is entitled to see both open and closed records.
When Do Arrests and Convictions Show Up On a Criminal Background Report?
If an entity that is entitled to see both open and closed records requests just a Basic Name Search criminal background report, that report will show both open and closed records, so arrests and convictions will both show up.
EXAMPLE If you were arrested for marijuana possession and your attorney negotiates a plea bargain deal with the Prosecuting Attorney to reduce the charge to “Littering,” that’s an open record and a Basic Name Search will reveal that the Prosecutor 1) filed charges against you for marijuana possession, and 2) you were convicted of “Littering.” The arrest will not show up but the Prosecutor’s action of filing the charge of marijuana possession will show up.
EXAMPLE: If you were arrested for shoplifting and your attorney convinces the Prosecuting Attorney to dismiss your case, that’s a closed record, so nothing will show up on a Basic Name Search criminal background report. In this situation, if you request a Fingerprint Search criminal background report, both open and closed records will show up, and the report will reveal that you were arrested for shoplifting and your case was dismissed, but only if the requesting entity is entitled to see both open and closed records.
Recent Arrests Will Show Up On a Basic Criminal Background Check
If you were arrested up to 30 days ago, the arrest is considered “fresh” and will show up on a Basic Name Search background check, even if the potential employer is not entitled to see both open and closed records.
Probation Will Show Up On a Basic Criminal Background Report
If you received a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS) with probation, it’s an open pending case while you are on probation and is considered an open record. It will become a closed record after you successfully complete probation and your case is closed.
The fact that you are on probation will show up even on a Basic Name Search criminal background report because it’s an open record.
If you apply for a job with an “entitled entity” employer like a daycare, the employer can require you to get a Fingerprint Search criminal background check, which will show the following:
- Were you on probation in the past?
- What were you on probation for?
- Did you successfully complete probation?
- Is the case closed?
You Don’t Have to Agree To Disclose All Records, Even If a Potential Employer Requests It
Some employers ask potential employees to get fingerprinted and request a Fingerprint Search criminal background report, even though the employer is not an entity that is entitled to see both open and closed records.
In that situation, the potential employee can choose what they want the potential employer to see — open records only, or both open and closed records. So, the person applying for a job who is required to get fingerprinted can request that only open records be disclosed on the background report, if the employer is not an entitled entity.
Some Employers Can Require Job Applicants to Disclose Both Open and Closed Criminal Records
If you are applying for a job with an “entitled entity” employer (criminal justice agency, state government, day care, etc.) and you are required to get fingerprinted and request a Fingerprint Search criminal background report, you must agree to disclose both open and closed records.
What Is An “Entitled Entity” Employer?
“Entitled Entity” employers are those that are legally entitled to require job applicants to get fingerprinted and disclose both open and closed records prior to being considered for a job.
Examples of Entitled Entities: day care, nursing home, criminal justice agency, State of Missouri.
How to Get a Copy of Your Criminal Record Check
To order a Missouri criminal record check, go online to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) website or call CJIS at (573) 526-6153.
Or you can go to the state police headquarters in the county in which you live and request a Fingerprint Search criminal background report. The Fingerprint Search criminal background report is more thorough than the criminal background report that you purchase online from CJIS.
If you have questions about what is showing up on your Missouri criminal background report, or how to obtain a criminal background report, call the Missouri State Highway Patrol Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) at (573) 526-6153.
To get help for your criminal case, call St. Louis criminal defense attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 for a free consultation and a price quote for legal representation. Or email Andrea at email@example.com
When you receive a summons from a criminal court, it means you have been charged with a criminal offense and you must appear in court on your court date to respond to the charge.
What Happens If You Don’t Respond To A Summons?
After receiving a summons to appear in criminal court, you must go to court on your court date, or else the court will issue a warrant for your arrest.
What If You Did Not Receive The Summons From The Court?
Sometimes the court mails a summons to a defendant but the defendant does not receive it because the court has an incorrect mailing address on file for the defendant, or otherwise sent it to the wrong address.
The court is required to mail the summons to the defendant to notify them of the court date, but the court has no responsibility to make sure the defendant actually received the summons.
So, if the court sends a summons to you at the wrong address and you don’t receive the summons, the court can issue a warrant for your arrest.
What To Do If You Missed Your Court Date
If you have a warrant because you did not receive the summons from the court and missed your court date, your attorney can lift the warrant for you. Your attorney will make sure the warrant is cancelled and a new court date is scheduled.
Hiring an attorney to lift your warrant allows you to avoid turning yourself in to police, paying the bond, and appearing in court.
How To Respond To A Summons
If you have received a summons to appear in criminal court in Missouri, you can do one of the following:
- Go to court on your court date and plead guilty
- Go to court on your court date and plead not guilty
- Go to court on your court date and ask the judge for a continuance to give you more time to hire an attorney to represent you
- Hire an attorney to represent you in court so you don’t have to appear in court
If you plead guilty to a criminal offense, you will be ordered to pay fines and court costs, and you will end up with a conviction on your criminal record.
If you plead guilty to speeding tickets or other moving violations, you will have to pay fines and court costs, points will be added to your driving record, and your car insurance rates will probably increase.
The added points may cause your driver’s license to be suspended or revoked if you accumulate:
- 8 points within 18 months
- 12 points within 12 months
- 18 points within 24 months
- 24 points within 36 months
If you plead not guilty, the judge will schedule your case for trial and you will have to decide whether to represent yourself or hire an attorney to represent you at trial.
An Attorney Can Help If You Received a Summons To Appear In Court
You can hire an attorney to respond to your summons and represent you in court for your criminal case.
Your attorney can represent you at trial or negotiate a pre-trial plea bargain deal with the court on your behalf, and you may not have to appear in court at all.
An experienced attorney can get your criminal charge dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense. The outcome of your case depends on the following:
- How old are you?
- How serious was the criminal charge?
- Which court is your case being prosecuted in?
- Do you have any prior convictions on your criminal record?
If you have received a summons to appear in a Missouri court for a speeding ticket or other criminal charge, call criminal defense attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 for a free consultation and a price quote for legal representation. Or email Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you get caught shoplifting items worth under $500 in Missouri, the potential punishment is 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. If you hire an experienced attorney to represent you, it is very likely that your shoplifting charge will be dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense, such as “Littering.”
Will You Go to Jail For Shoplifting in Missouri?
As noted above, the judge has the power to send you to jail for up to 1 year for misdemeanor stealing (under $500). However, if you have no prior convictions for stealing, theft, petty larceny, or shoplifting and you have an attorney representing you, there is very little chance you will go to jail.
How Can an Attorney Help With Your Shoplifting Case?
In most Missouri municipal courts, an experienced attorney can negotiate a plea bargain deal with the Prosecuting Attorney so that a misdemeanor shoplifting charge is either:
- Dismissed completely,
- Reduced to a lesser offense, such as “Littering,” or
- Dismissed after a period of probation
In a typical shoplifting case in a Missouri municipal court in which the defendant has hired an attorney to work out a deal with the Prosecutor, the defendant will very likely be required to do one or all of the following:
- Pay a fine
- Pay court costs
- Complete the “Theft Offender” class
- Do a few hours of community service
- Serve a period of 1 to 2 years on probation
PLEASE NOTE: In some courts in Missouri, the Prosecutor will not dismiss or reduce shoplifting charges, even if the defendant has no prior convictions.
How Much Are the Fines & Court Costs You Pay to the Court For a Shoplifting Case?
The amount of the fine you will pay for shoplifting could be anywhere from $100 to $500, depending on which court your case is in, your criminal history, and other details of your case. The amount of the court costs vary by court and can range from $25 to $65.
The “Theft Offender” class that the court will require a shoplifter to attend can be completed in one day and usually costs around $50 to $75.
The community service hours can usually be completed at any non-profit charitable organization, and the court usually gives defendants 2-3 months to complete the hours. The number of community service hours usually range from 10 to 25 hours, depending on the court and the details of your case.
Probation periods range from 6 months to 2 years, and can be either court-supervised or unsupervised “bench” probation.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Attorney For Your Shoplifting Case?
Most criminal defense attorneys charge a one-time flat-fee price to represent a defendant charged with misdemeanor (under $500) shoplifting, stealing, theft, or petty larceny. The amount the attorney charges depends on the following:
- Which court is your case being prosecuted in? (Court name & address are listed on your ticket or summons.)
- Do you have any prior convictions on your criminal record?
- How old are you?
- What did you steal?
- What was the value of the items you stole?
- Were the items you stole returned to the store undamaged?
- Were you polite and respectful to the police officer?
What Will Happen If You Plead Guilty to Shoplifting With No Attorney Representing You?
Most attorneys advise defendants to not go to court without a lawyer or plead guilty to a charge of shoplifting, stealing, theft, or petty larceny in Missouri.
It will cost you less money up front if you plead guilty to shoplifting without having an attorney representing you. But in the long run it will cost you much more because having a shoplifting conviction on your permanent criminal record will prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, or obtaining a loan.
For more information about fighting a shoplifting/stealing charge in Missouri, read my previous blog post “What is the Punishment for Shoplifting/Stealing in Missouri?”
If you have been charged with shoplifting, stealing, petty larceny, or petty theft in Missouri, call St. Louis Shoplifting Lawyer Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or email her at email@example.com for a price quote for legal representation.
Get your warrant cancelled for $10 at the 2016 St. Louis warrant amnesty event on August 6, 11 & 13, 2016 at St. Louis Community College.
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Warrant Lifted at the Warrant Amnesty Event?
For a $10 fee, people with outstanding warrants for old traffic tickets, misdemeanors, and child support cases can get their warrants lifted and obtain a new court date.
When is the 2016 St. Louis Amnesty Event?
The warrant amnesty program is sponsored by St. Louis Community College and Better Family Life. The warrant amnesty event will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the following dates:
St. Louis Community College – Meramec Campus – Saturday, August 6, 2016
St. Louis Community College – Florissant Valley Campus – Thursday, August 11, 2016
St. Louis Community College – Forest Park Campus – Saturday, August 13, 2016
Warrant Amnesty Lifts Your Warrant But Does Not Dismiss the Charges
The warrant amnesty program does not dismiss your tickets, misdemeanor charges, or child support cases, but it does allow you to get your warrant cancelled and obtain a new court date. At that point, you can either hire an attorney to represent you in court or go to court on your own and represent yourself.
If you were making payments on outstanding ticket fines and missed a payment, resulting in a warrant being issued, this warrant amnesty program will allow you to pay $10 to get your warrant lifted. Then you can go to court and ask the judge to put your case back on the payment docket so you can continue to make payments for the unpaid fines.
Not All St. Louis Courts Are Participating in the 2016 Warrant Amnesty
Before attending the warrant amnesty event, you should call the court that issued your warrant to confirm that they are participating in the warrant amnesty, since not all courts in the St. Louis area are taking part in this amnesty event.
Click here to read a recent news article about the St. Louis warrant amnesty program.
For more information about the 2016 St. Louis Warrant Amnesty Program, you can contact Better Family Life (314) 367-3440.
If you have a warrant in a Missouri court that is not participating in the 2016 St. Louis warrant amnesty event, you can call St. Louis attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 for a price quote to get your warrant lifted and get legal representation for your case. Or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org