It is a common misconception that shoplifting is a small crime with minimal consequences. For those who have been caught can find themselves facing more severe consequences than anticipated under Minnesota law. If you have been caught shoplifting, it can be incredibly embarrassing. This is why you must take the necessary steps in order to defend yourself.
What is Considered Shoplifting?
We all know the classic definition of shoplifting, but the term doesn’t just apply to pocketing merchandise and walking out of the store with it. Formally, shoplifting falls under the legal term “retail theft” which covers a wide array of crime, including:
- Concealing store property
- Leaving the premises with store property without paying for it
- Using deceptive means to obtain goods
- Switching price tags to pay a lower price for a product
- Altering the product packaging in order to pay a lower price
All of the above can fall under the term “shoplifting” and can be punished if the store so chooses. It is also obvious that many of the above may have been committed by accident. If you did accidentally conceal an item in your purse or pocket or tried to buy something that already had the price tags switched, you must contact and experienced and aggressive attorney immediately.
Punishments for Shoplifting in Minnesota
When it comes to the penalties for shoplifting in Minnesota, the punishments will differ depending on the value of what was stolen and the means by which it was stolen. Low value items face the smallest punishments, but as you move into higher value items you can face punishments similar to much more serious crimes.
Punishments for shoplifting include:
- Items under $500 – This is the most common shoplifting price range. It only has misdemeanor-level punishments, but that includes $1,000 in fines and/or 90 days in jail.
- Items Between $500 and $1,000 – This qualifies you for $10,000 in fines and/or five years in prison. It is a felony level offense.
- Items Between $5,000 and $35,000 – The fines rise up to $20,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison. This is also a felony level offense.
- Items Over $35,000 – This is the highest level felony offense in this category. You face up to $100,000 in fines and up to 20 years in prison.
Fighting a Shoplifting Charge
Whether it was a pack of gum or half a jewelry store, all shoplifting charges must be contested. You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. However, you might not have a defense attorney’s number on hand. This is why that as soon as you are caught, you need say as little as possible until you have an opportunity to contact a lawyer. Your shoplifting defense starts as soon as you are caught, and the less you say, the stronger your defense may be.
For very low value merchandise, you may not be arrested. However, you will most likely face non-criminal consequences brought about by the store, such as being barred from shopping there and civil damages. If the store insists on contacting the police, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible and say as little as possible. Any statements will likely only weaken your case.
If you have been caught shoplifting in Minnesota, contact us today. The criminal defenders at Kinsella & Folley are dedicated to preserving the rights of all Minnesota citizens, and they will fight hard to prevent a shoplifting conviction. Let us help you protect your future from criminal charges.