Although the term “shoplifting” is widely used to describe the theft of goods from a retail store, Ohio doesn’t have a separate shoplifting law. Rather, retail theft falls under the state’s general theft statute.
That’s important, as many people have a mistaken belief that shoplifting is somehow a less serious crime than theft. In fact, shoplifting may be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the merchandise stolen.
Consequences of a Shoplifting Conviction
In Ohio, shoplifting is a first-degree misdemeanor if the property stolen is valued at less than $1,000.
Possible consequences of a misdemeanor theft conviction include:
- Up to 180 days in jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Court costs
- Restitution to the victim
- Community service
Most shoplifting charges are misdemeanors because property stolen is generally worth less than $1,000.
It’s important to note, however, that the law treats all property valued at less than $1,000 equally. In other words, although a sentencing court might well treat the two situations differently, there is no legal distinction between stealing a candy bar and stealing a $900 piece of jewelry. The maximum possible sentence for these two shoplifters is the same, and the crime appearing on each person’s criminal record are identical.
When shoplifting involves property valued at $1,000 or more, the charge is a felony.
If the value of the property stolen is $1,000 or more, but less than $7,500, the crime is a fifth-degree felony. That means a possible prison sentence of up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500 in addition to other consequences such as probation and restitution.
It is rare for shoplifting to involve property valued at $7,500 or greater. However, when higher values are involved, the classification of the crime will also be elevated and the potential penalties more serious.
Additional Consequences of an Ohio Theft Conviction
In addition to the court-imposed consequences of a shoplifting conviction, the criminal record associated with the crime can create obstacles and complications for years to come.
Although Ohio has introduced a limited type of “ban the box” legislation to make it easier for people with criminal histories to secure employment, the limits are not absolute. An Ohio employer who has selected potential hires may ask questions about criminal history or conduct a criminal background check before extending an offer of employment.
Similarly, a theft conviction may be a barrier to professional licensing and maybe a hard disqualifier for certain types of employment where the employee will be handling other people’s money or have access to sensitive information.
In short, shoplifting is theft, and theft charges should not be taken lightly. If you or a loved one has been charged with theft after a shoplifting incident, speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Depending on many factors, including any past criminal history, there may be options available to avoid or limit the consequences of shoplifting.
The information presented in this post is not legal advice and does not form a lawyer/client relationship. Laws and circumstances can differ and change.
Please contact us for a personal review of your situation