Retail theft can seem like a small crime. After all, the items being stolen are usually cheap in value. Despite this, the punishment for a retail theft crime can be quite severe. One can see their life upended as a result of such an arrest.
The severity of punishment for retail theft can vary depending on a number of factors. There are hundreds of retail theft arrests made in Baton Rouge each year. The punishment for each of these cases can be wildly different.
Have you been arrested recently for attempted theft of retail goods? The security of your future might depend on what you do next. Read on, and we’ll walk you through what your next four steps should be.
1. Understand Potential Penalties
If you’ve recently been arrested for shoplifting, it’s important to understand what the consequences can be. Before you can plan, you need to know what you are up against.
Petty theft and shoplifting are both misdemeanors. While that’s less severe than a felony offense, it still means that individuals can spend up to a year in jail as a result of their crime. The fine for misdemeanor crimes can also still be quite expensive. It can be as high as a few thousand dollars.
Outside of fees or jail time, defendants may need to enroll a court-supervised program known as diversion. In this program, the convicted will spend time performing community service. They will work through counseling and stay on the right side of the law.
Diversion can be quite a time intensive but is preferable to time spent behind bars. Those that complete such a program can have their charges dismissed.
Penalties for those with prior charges can become quite severe. Prior shoplifting charges indicate that the defendant hasn’t made an attempt to grow or change from their past mistakes.
Repeat offenders can find themselves charged with a felony. The felony charge is known as petty with a prior. A felony conviction can make it difficult to find work or obtain loans. A felony charge also has the potential to land an individual in state prison.
2. Remain Calm and Collected
In an arrest situation, it’s important to keep your cool. As most people know, anything you say or do following an arrest can be used against you in a court of law.
That’s your Miranda Rights, reminding you that it’s better to keep calm and quiet. You do not have to answer any questions officers ask you and you can refrain from speaking until you can speak to a lawyer.
Just because you shouldn’t talk doesn’t mean you need to be rude. Be polite and courteous to your arresting officers and remain calm. Do not resist arrest, run, or attempt to explain away the incident.
It’s important that you wait for an attorney to represent you before taking any actions. Do not believe anything cops say if they tell you that you need to talk: this is not the truth. You have your rights.
If the police come to your home, do not leave. Do not let police enter your home unless they have a warrant in hand.
Practicing the proper behavior following an arrest is certain to better establish your case later on. The last thing you want to do is accidentally layout incriminating evidence that might make your punishment more severe.
3. Hire Professional Help
If there’s a chance that your shoplifting punishment may be severe, it’s important that you have legal aide at your side. An experienced attorney can look at the details of your case and work hard to get you through the difficult legal process. They will fight for the best possible outcome for you.
An attorney will do this via a few different methods. They will request and gather evidence, including police reports, video footage, or the stolen goods in question. They will also have you walk through your shoplifting incident moment by moment, gathering all the necessary information.
Based on the information gathered, an attorney can help lay out what they think the best possible plan is based on the details of your case. They may push set the case for trial, for a plea, or attempt to set you up in a diversion program.
Ultimately, your legal fate will be set by the work of your attorney. That’s why it is so valuable to ensure you have proper legal aide by your side.
4. Researching State Specifics
Depending on where you live, there may be different specifications for how shoplifting crimes are defined and treated. The severity of punishment in one state can vary greatly compared to another.
When it comes to Baton Rouge, the punishment is relatively lenient. For the theft of retail property valued at less than $500, the most someone could spend in jail is six months. The largest fine is $1,000.
This is considerably more lenient than many states in the country, where people can spend a year in jail or thousands on fines. Some states even have lower limits. Florida, for example, extends their petty theft charge only to items $100 or lower.
Understanding local laws will have you better prepared for your retail theft case. With knowledge and experience on your side, you can come out of the legal process in one piece.
Arrested For Retail Theft?
Even a misdemeanor arrest can have serious repercussions for your day to day life. If you’ve been charged with retail theft, it’s essential to understand what to do next. The steps you take can change the outcome of your case considerably.
Need help working through your arrest charge? Call us anytime for a free consultation.