Petty Theft / Shoplifting

We have a proven track record of success in handling over 15,000 criminal cases and are consistently awarded as one of Ohio’s top criminal defense firms. We are highly experienced petty theft / shoplifting lawyers in Columbus, OH and all of central Ohio. Experience matters when dealing with these cases, which prosecutors and judges handle differently on a case-by-case basis. We know what to expect and what to do to get the best result possible.

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shoplifting lawyer columbus ohio criminal defense lawyer joslyn lawColumbus Shoplifting & Petty Theft Lawyer Near You

A shoplifting or petty theft charge may seem like a trivial offense, but these crimes can come with challenging and life-changing consequences. If you are facing charges in a shoplifting incident, you may wonder what it could mean, especially if it’s your first offense. You may feel angry or scared when facing detainment for theft crimes, but it is important to remain calm.

In Ohio, offenses for shoplifting—the act of taking property from a store or business without permission—fall under theft laws and can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on how much the property is worth. It is petty theft in Ohio if its value is under $1,000.

If you are facing charges for a shoplifting crime, you should consider hiring legal representation, no matter the item’s price. The higher cost, in the long run, is the criminal conviction which could mean prison or jail time, fines, and a record that follows you. You could find it harder to land a job, buy a house, vote, and enjoy your life because of a misstep or a false accusation.

Anyone who runs a background check on you, including potential employers, can see a permanent mark and make a different decision about you and your future. A conviction can also affect your reputation and your personal relationships.

A shoplifting accusation against you, however, doesn’t have to be the final chapter in an unfortunate situation. Joslyn Law Firm, a premier criminal defense law firm in Columbus, can challenge the charge against you and seek to have it dismissed or reduced.

Joslyn Law Firm’s Columbus Shoplifting and Petty Theft Attorney Will Challenge the Shoplifting Charges

Joslyn Law Firm’s criminal defense attorneys are ready to get to work for you. We are widely recognized and respected throughout Ohio and nationally for our commitment to professional legal representation that gets results. Our awards and honors reflect the high standards we hold ourselves to as we help clients from all walks of life get the legal counsel they seek. Our accolades include:

  • Top American Lawyers
  • Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers
  • Rising Stars 2022 by Super Lawyers
  • Columbus CEO Top Lawyer
  • Top Attorney for Criminal Defense by Avvo Clients’ Choice Superb
  • Best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Columbus – Expertise, 2022

We strive to be the best at what we do as we represent various criminal defense cases. We understand things happen and that, as a result, lives turn upside down. That’s why we are here to help. We will take your case and your future seriously as we fight for the best outcome for you. With more than 50 years of combined legal experience behind us, we are confident we can lead your case.

Having our Columbus petty theft defense lawyer at your side will help ensure your defense strategy is sound and that you are taking the necessary steps to get this charge reduced or possibly dismissed.

We are ready to start working for you. Call (614) 444-1900 for a free consultation with Brian Joslyn if you live in or around the counties of Delaware, Franklin, Madison, Licking, Fairfield, and Pickaway if you are looking for a shoplifting lawyer near you.

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Shoplifting and Petty Theft in Columbus, OH, Information Center

Overview of Petty Theft Under Ohio Law

According to Ohio Revised Code Section 2913.02, you may be charged with theft if you take control of someone else’s property or services with the purpose of depriving them:

  • Without permission the consent of the owner or person authorized to give consent;
  • Beyond the scope of the express or implied consent of the owner or person authorized to give consent;
  • By deception;
  • By threat; or
  • By intimidation.

Penalties for Shoplifting and Petty Theft in Ohio

Petty theft or shoplifting is considered a misdemeanor of the first degree. In Ohio, a charge such as this will come with a presumptive sentence of not more than six months in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000 (Ohio Revised Code Section 2929.22).

The charges will increase in severity depending on the amount stolen. Shoplifting becomes a felony if the value of the property or services stolen is between $1,000 and $7500.

Joslyn Law Firm petty theft attorney columbus ohio

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Defenses in Shoplifting and Petty Theft Cases in Ohio

Our nearby Columbus shoplifting and petty theft attorney will review your case’s circumstances and determine how to build your defense. Here are a few common defenses that could apply to your case:

  • Alibi defense: You were not present at the scene of the crime, so, therefore you did not commit the crime.
  • Lack of intent: A defense attorney can set out to show that a defendant did not intend to steal the item. For example, if you didn’t see an item in your grocery basket but forgot to remove it before leaving the store, you could argue that you mistakenly overlooked the item. This is different from putting the item in your cart, concealing it, and not paying for it.
  • Mistaken identity: People can make mistakes. If there is doubt that a witness named the wrong person in connection with the shoplifting incident, an attorney can set out to demonstrate how that happened.
  • Claim of right to property: If you took the item because you truly believed it belonged to you, you can set out to prove why you believed you had the right to claim the item as yours.

Certain elements must be present to determine that a crime occurred. We will also consider the evidence in your case. We treat each case on an individual basis and develop a defense that challenges the charges you face.

Evidence in Shoplifting and Petty Theft Cases in Ohio

As a Columbus shoplifting and petty theft attorney from our firm works on your case, we will collect and review evidence to establish your case. The evidence we could use include the following:

  • Bank statements, invoices, or receipts: Financial documents showing you paid for the merchandise in question can dispute allegations that you took it without paying for or removing it.
  • Surveillance video footage: If available, surveillance video can show what took place, including any actions that would indicate an intent to conceal or remove an item without the proper consent. If video evidence does not support accounts that you, we can demand the prosecution to drop the case.
  • Witness statements: Someone who saw what happened can support your claims that you did not shoplift or engage in petty theft. Witnesses can also attest to where you were when the crime allegedly took place. If witnesses for the opposing side cannot place you at the scene or confirm that shoplifting took place, you could challenge the prosecution’s claims.

Our attorney is your area will review all evidence in your case, including evidence from the prosecutor’s office. We will also ensure all evidence was lawfully obtained and that authorities did not violate your Fourth Amendment rights, which protect against illegal searches and seizures. Violations of your constitutional rights could compromise evidence, which could lead to it being dismissed.

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Shoplifting and Petty Theft Resources

National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) – This nonprofit organization raises awareness about shoplifting and how it affects not only the retail industry but also youths, families, and communities. It offers a diverse range of services, including theft education programs for adults and juveniles, including those who must complete a theft class as ordered by a court or probation officer.

2020 NRF Organized Retail Crime Survey – The National Retail Federation (NRF) published the findings of an analysis that examines organized retail crime (ORC) and how it affects retailers across the U.S. The organization surveyed 61 retailers on their views on ORC and experiences concerning theft and loss. Per the report’s data, the average loss for retailers tops $700,000 per $1 billion in sales. When this study was published in December 2020, three in four victims of organized retail crime reported an increase over a 12-month period, and more than six in 10 said there is a need for a federal law that addresses crimes of this nature.

Organized Retail Crime and the Federal Response – This January 2022 Congressional Research Service report addresses retailers and retail industry advocates’ concerns about increasing organized retail crime (ORC). According to observers, there’s been a rise in incidents involving flash mobs of shoplifters who rush stores to steal merchandise for resale at online and offline venues. In some cases, these events turn violent when offenders assault store employees. Per the report, some attribute the increased ORC to the COVID-19 pandemic, although the report says it is unclear if the pandemic was an influence. Policymakers and law enforcement were encouraged to step up their efforts to educate the public and crack down on the crimes.

Community Intervention and Diversion (CID), Franklin County Sheriff’s Office – Under this initiative, law enforcement and mental health services partner to help offenders with substance use disorders and mental health disorders. The goal is to guide them away from the criminal justice system when possible so they can receive the services they need to treat their conditions. The program can help treat the cause behind theft, which, in many cases, can extend beyond a desire to steal.

Restorative Justice Circles Program – Young people between the ages of 11 and 17 who commit first-time misdemeanor offenses may be join this community-based program offered by the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas’ Division of Domestic Relations and Juvenile Branch. The court-operated diversion program allows young people to discuss the offense they committed, ask questions, and take accountability for their actions with the support of their parents/guardians and community members.

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Notable Ohio Cases Involving Petty Theft

State v. Wright, 2015-Ohio-3919: Defendant-Appellant James Wright appealed his conviction for petty theft to the Court of Appeals of Ohio Second Appellate District Montgomery County in 2015. He asserted the trial court erred by accepting his guilty plea to the offense “that was not knowingly, intelligently, or voluntarily given,” because he did not know the plea could result in the trial court revoking his community control from his two other criminal cases.

The appeals court concluded that the trial court did not err in accepting Wright’s guilty plea or revoking his community control. He was sentenced to community control in a 2011 domestic violence case after he pleaded no contest. In March 2013, he was charged with a first-degree misdemeanor theft, and in May 2013, allegations against him included two theft charges pending in Dayton Municipal Court. Later, in 2014, an order of arrest was issued in the 2011 and 2013 cases because Wright violated the terms of his probation.

Per the appeals court’s opinion, “Wright waived indictment for the petty theft charge, consented that the charge be presented by a bill of information, and waived his right to three-day service of the bill of information. Wright also pled guilty to the Petty Theft charge on October 28, 2014.”

The court also writes that “At the hearing, the trial court advised Wright of his constitutional rights concerning the Petty Theft plea, accepted [Wright’s] plea, and found Wright guilty. The court then sentenced Wright to six months on the Petty Theft charge, and found that the sentence merged into the sentence on the two prior cases.”

At that hearing, the trial court revoked community control and sentenced Wright to 12 months in prison on the 2011 and 2013 convictions, with the sentences to be served concurrently for a total of 12 months in prison.

State v. Harding, 2014-Ohio-730: Counsel for appellant Dana Harding asked the Court of Appeals of Ohio Second Appellate District Montgomery County to review whether potential assignments of errors having arguable merit in Harding’s trial court case. Of particular concern is whether the trial court committed a reversible error when it accepted Harding’s guilty plea in her petty theft case.

Per the court’s record, Harding was given 60 days to file a brief to show that the court erred in her case, but she did not file one. Per the appeals court, “We find no potential assignment of error having arguable merit. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.”

Harding was charged with petty theft, and her attorney negotiated a plea bargain for her. She entered a plea to an amended reduced charge of unauthorized use of property, a fourth-degree misdemeanor. At Harding’s sentencing, the trial court noted that she was on diversion for an earlier theft offense that the court said was premeditated.

Harding, a manager at a Burlington Coat Factory, admitted to stealing $365 from her employer after keeping receipts from voided transactions and crediting gift cards with returned merchandise and giving the gift cards to relatives and friends. Harding denied that her actions were premeditated, but the court discredited her accounts and imposed a 30-day jail sentence. The appeals court found no error on the trial court’s part and affirmed its judgment.

News About Shoplifting and Petty Theft Crimes in Ohio

February 27, 2023
West Chester Approves Lawsuit Settlement After Police Detain Wrong Man at Meijer – West Chester Township, Ohio, recently approved a $28,000 lawsuit settlement involving two officers who detained Eric Lindsay of Liberty Township in 2021 after learning about a shoplifting incident at a Meijer grocery store, reports Fox 19 Now (WXIX) reports. Lindsay, a Black man in his 60s, was detained even though the suspect was described as a white man in his 30s. The township’s insurance will cover the lawsuit.

February 25, 2023
South Euclid Theft Suspect Arrested After Getaway Car Gets Trapped at Car Wash – An Ohio man faces theft charges after police say he stole nearly $500 worth of merchandise from a Giant Eagle grocery store in South Euclid, Ohio, WOIO reports. A security officer reportedly saw the man pushing a shopping cart down a street before trying to enter what authorities say was a getaway vehicle. The vehicle, however, got stuck in between other vehicles at an area car wash while the theft suspect was inside the store. Police told the news station that both suspects had outstanding warrants.

December 30, 2021
‘It’s an Easy Fast Dollar’: How Organized Retail Theft Rings in One Ohio Town Use Facebook Marketplace to Sell Stolen Goods – This NBC News feature examines an Ohio town’s efforts to investigate and crack down on organized shoplifting rings who turn to online sites, such as Facebook Marketplace, to sell their stolen goods. “Industry watchers say online marketplaces make it easy for criminals to offload their loot with ease,” according to the authors of this article, who say the town’s police officers spend much of their time tracking transactions for stolen items and theft crimes on the social media site.

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Ohio Shoplifting and Petty Theft FAQs

Below are some commonly asked questions involving shoplifting and petty theft charges in Ohio.

Q: Are Petty Theft and Shoplifting the Same Offense in Ohio?
A: Some may use petty theft and shoplifting interchangeably, but shoplifting is not an official offense in Ohio and petty theft describes only one kind of theft under the state’s general theft laws. Because Ohio does not have a statute specifically for shoplifting, a person accused of this crime will face a theft charge under Ohio Revised Code Section 2913.02. If the value of the stolen property is less than $1,000, a person can face petty theft, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Q: How Does Ohio Define ‘Theft’?
A: Per this statute, a person commits theft if they “knowingly obtain and exert control over either the property or services” in various ways, including if they do not have consent from the owner or a person authorized to give consent. Individuals who take property beyond the scope of an owner’s permission, or through deceptive practices, intimidation, or threats can be charged with theft under state law. Shoplifting falls under this definition because it involves taking items or services with the intention of not paying for them.

Q: What Is the Penalty for Petty Theft in Ohio?
A: The value of the property stolen will determine what theft charge a person will face. Petty theft is a first-degree misdemeanor if the stolen goods are less than $1,000. A person can serve a jail sentence up to six months, pay a $1,000 fine, and serve up to five years on probation if convicted on a petty theft charge. If the theft is between $1,000 and $7,500, a person can face a fifth-degree felony charge. This means they can serve six months to 12 months in jail and pay fines up to $2,500.

Q: Does Shoplifting Only Involve Taking Something From a Store or Business Without Paying for It?
A: No. There are other forms of shoplifting, and a person doesn’t have to leave a store or business without paying for an item to be charged with the offense. The prosecution must prove individuals accused of this crime moved merchandise or manipulated or controlled it in a way that demonstrates that they did not intend to pay for it. A person can face shoplifting charges if they do any of the following:

  • Attempt to take theft prevention tags or devices off unpaid merchandise
  • Hide an item while in a store or business (e.g., placing it under their coat or shirt or putting it in their pocket)
  • Change an item’s price tag or label so they can pay a lower price
  • Consume food or drink without paying for it first
  • Take an item from its original packaging or container and placing it somewhere else

These are only a few examples of how shoplifting can occur. If a person faces theft charges in a shoplifting incident, they may be accused of conduct that doesn’t match any of the above. A criminal defense attorney can review the incident’s circumstances and advise individuals in this situation of their next steps.

Q: Does a Charge in a Columbus, OH, Shoplifting Case Apply Only to Merchandise?
A: No. Individuals can face theft charges if they use any services without consent or without paying for them. In Ohio, services can include food, drink, transportation, entertainment, utilities (e.g., water, electricity, cable services, etc.).

Q: Does a Shoplifting Case Always Lead to Jail Time?
A: A person facing theft charges in a shoplifting case in Ohio may be able to reduce their charges or avoid penalties for a low-level crime by entering a pretrial diversion program. Once they complete the program, they could have the theft charge dismissed. Defendants could also work with a criminal defense attorney near them who can advise them on how to reduce their charges or penalties. Generally, retailers opt to prosecute individuals who they believe shoplifted in their business. However, some may charge individuals if the case involves higher-priced merchandise. If not, they may decide to handle it internally according to their store’s policy.

Q: Can Theft Victims Sue the Offenders Convicted in Their Cases?
A: Yes. Per Ohio Revised Code Section 2307.61, theft victims, such as companies or retailers, can pursue compensation from those convicted in shoplifting cases. They can seek payment for the property or services stolen from them, liquidated damages, other damages, and lawsuit-related expenses, among other financial damages. If you or someone you know is facing charges in a Columbus, OH, shoplifting incident, you should consult a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible for legal counsel. They can protect your rights and determine what legal recourse you can take to protect your future and resolve your case.

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Joslyn Law Firm | Franklin County Shoplifting Lawyer

A petty theft charge in a Columbus shoplifting incident can dramatically affect your professional and social life. If you or a loved one is dealing with a petty theft or shoplifting charge in central Ohio, call Joslyn Law Firm for help from a Columbus shoplifting and petty theft lawyer. Having spent years representing individuals fighting petty theft allegations, our firm’s lead attorney and founder, Brian Joslyn, has the insight and understanding necessary to represent you throughout the process.

Call (614) 444-1900 or send us an online message if you would like to set up a risk-free and confidential consultation to discuss the specifics of your case in detail with Brian Joslyn. Based in Columbus, Brian is committed to upholding the individual rights of those living in central Ohio, including but not limited to the cities of Delaware, Powell, Dublin, Reynoldsburg, Urbancrest, Mount Sterling, Utica, Hanover, Canal Winchester, Millersport, Circleville and, New Holland.


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  • Brian Joslyn was named Best Lawyer in 2019 by Birdeye.
  • Columbus CEO magazine has yearly selections for the best attorneys in Columbus Ohio. Brian Joslyn has been identified as one of the most highly skilled attorneys across central Ohio.
  • Brian Joslyn has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer LegionLawyer Legion
  • Preeminent Attorney Award. Peer rated for highest level of professional exellence.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust.

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