When to Plea-Bargain in a Shoplifting Case
Often seen as an opportunity to telegraph an anti-theft message, merchants will vigorously pursue enforcement against defendants. So in addition to criminal penalties, merchants may further want to make an example of you by suing you in civil court to recover damages. Merchants are entitled to a choice of damages equal to the value of the stolen property, plus between $50 and $150; or damages equal to either $200 or three times the value of the property, whichever is more. Sometimes the merchant is also entitled to court costs and reasonable attorney fees.
This table illustrates the penalties and charges for various levels of property theft in Ohio.
|Petty Theft||Less than $1,000||First degree misdemeanor||180 days in prison or jail; $1,000 fine or both|
|Theft||At least $1,000 but less than $7,000||Fifth degree felony||Six to 12 months prison; $2,500 fine|
|Grand Theft||At least $7,000, but less than $150,000||Fourth degree felony||Six to 18 months prison; $5,000 fine|
|Aggravated Theft||At least $150,000 but less than $750,000||Third degree felony||One to five years prison; $10,000 fine|
|Aggravated Theft||At least $750,000 but less than $1,500,000||Second degree felony||Two to eight years prison; $15,000 fine|
|Aggravated Theft||At least $1,500,000||First degree felony||Three to 11 years prison; $20,000 fine|
According to Ohio law, prosecutors may establish pretrial diversion programs for people who the prosecuting attorney believes are at low risk of re-offending. These are generally people who are charged with low-level, first-time crimes. If the person accused of shoplifting is able to complete the diversion program and all its requirements – which might include making restitution, receiving counseling, and doing community service, then the criminal theft charges will be dropped.
If a diversion program is no longer an option, the next possibility may be to consider negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecutor. But exploring all these options would be best considered with the expert advice of someone who has your best interests in mind – your criminal defense attorney. If you find yourself in these circumstances, you owe it to your future to get professional, experienced counsel. Knowing which direction to turn and what best serves your needs is the help a skilled attorney can provide.
Need a Criminal Defense Attorney in Columbus, Ohio?
If you need the expertise of a criminal defense attorney, it is important to trust your legal representative. The skilled, trusted legal representation at Probst Law Office offers the help you need to be sure you have the representation you deserve. Crimes such as theft can become a permanent record of a temporary indiscretion. Get the experience, skill and knowledge you need when you hire Michael Probst as your attorney. Contact Michael today for your free consultation, or call now at 614-232-8890.