Shoplifting, also referred to as retail theft, can be a pretty serious crime. Depending upon the value of the goods stolen, it can either be a misdemeanor or a felony charge. Retail theft is not taken lightly in Columbus, and you must know what to do after a shoplifting accusation.
It’s because being aware of the requirements and related laws ensures that you steer clear of additional trouble during such a stressful situation. On top of that, it also allows you to find professional help when you need it the most.
To help you cope with such a grueling scenario easily, here are five steps to take after being involved in a retail theft incident in Columbus, OH.
Remain Calm and Collected
Being accused of shoplifting doesn’t mean that you are instantly charged with theft. Even when the store staff insists that you have shoplifted an item, make sure to remain calm.
Some stores will instantly detain you within their facility and have you wait while they call the police. But even in such situations, understand that the store staff itself cannot use physical force with you. Try to handle the situation without losing your cool and immediately contact a lawyer for your defense.
Don’t Explain the Situation to Store Staff
While some store employees might go into a tirade of questions by themselves, understand that retail theft in Columbus, Ohio doesn’t give any retail staff the authority to play detective. They can ask all the questions they want. It doesn’t mean you have to answer them.
In fact, anything that you say might be used against you. Remain silent and ask to contact legal representation immediately.
Understand the Alternatives
Even when the store is convinced of a shoplifting incident, it still doesn’t take away the possibility of a compromise. Sometimes, the store may agree not to press charges for shoplifting in Ohio and just let you go with a warning.
This scenario often involves the store taking payment for the stolen item. In such a case, make sure to exercise your judgment and choose the best possible solution.
Know the Consequences
Retail theft can either be a misdemeanor or a felony, and it depends upon the value of the stolen item. If the item is under $1,000, it is considered a misdemeanor with the punishment being up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Community service and probation may also be part of the sentence.
But if the item is over $1,000 but under $7,500, it is a felony charge. This scenario could include up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, as well as possible probation. It is rare for a shoplifted item to go beyond the value of $7,500, but in such a case, the sentence is elevated.
Call a Criminal Defense Attorney
When you are accused of shoplifting in Ohio, make sure that you contact a criminal defense attorney the first chance that you get. From explaining the situation to presenting the facts to the authorities, a criminal defense lawyer can help you through the most crucial aspects of this difficult scenario.
To explore your options and receive a competent defense against a shoplifting charge, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation. We will be glad to answer all your questions and help you get the representation you need. We specialize in theft crimes and can help you.