Is Shoplifting a Serious Offense | O'Keeffe O'Brien Lyson Attorneys

Is Shoplifting a Serious Offense

Shoplifting happens pretty much anyplace that has retail shops, which is pretty much everywhere you find people living. From the corner convenience store or gas station to the Neiman-Marcus store in the highest of high-end shopping districts, shoplifting happens. Some places list shoplifting as a specific crime in their statutes and crime statistics, while others do not. 

In North Dakota, shoplifting has been consolidated under law into the statute covering all kinds of theft. Shoplifting can include anything from removing something from the store without paying to changing price tags, committing refund fraud – returning an item for a refund that is actually greater than the price paid for the item – or even returning clothes you have already worn as if they were unused.

Retailers Try Very Hard To Prevent Shoplifting

Shoplifting costs retailers nationwide about $50 billion a year, so naturally, retailers put a lot of effort into combatting shoplifting. Many people view shoplifting as a petty crime – and most incidents of shoplifting don’t involve that much money – but it is a major problem for retailers. In 2020, for instance, there were nearly 3,000 theft crimes in Fargo, with some portion of those being shoplifting. 

Most shoplifting in North Dakota results in misdemeanor charges, moving up to felony charges only once the value of the goods stolen hits $1,000 or more. Even so, an arrest for shoplifting can be a harrowing experience just as much as an arrest for any other crime. Most people never get arrested. To be apprehended by police, taken into custody, charged, fingerprinted, and run through the entire booking process, can be a frightening thing.

Even for misdemeanor shoplifting, the potential sentences can be frightening, too. Shoplifting of goods valued at less than $1,000 will be charged as either a Class A or Class B misdemeanor, depending upon circumstances. A Class A misdemeanor in North Dakota carries a maximum sentence of 360 days in jail and a fine of up to $3,000. For a Class B misdemeanor, the maximum sentence is 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,500. 

While shoplifting items worth more than $1,000 might take some doing, it isn’t as hard as it used to be, and that’s a Class C felony. The maximum punishment in that case is up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Even aside from the jail time and fines, conviction of a crime, especially a felony, can have a dramatic impact on your ability to find work or even a place to live. The potential penalties alone should be enough to convince anyone that shoplifting is a pretty serious crime.

Consult with a Fargo Criminal Defense Lawyer Immediately

If you are arrested for shoplifting, you need to get good legal assistance. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can be counted on to defend your rights and do their best to safeguard your future. Get in touch with Fargo criminal defense lawyer Tatum O’Brien by email or the legal team of O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Attorneys by phone at 701-235-8000 or at 877-235-8002 toll-free to learn more.