Why is shoplifting such a devastating charge? What are the penalties, what are the collateral consequences?

Eden Prairie criminal defense attorney Martin Azarian discusses the repercussions for those who are convicted of shoplifting.

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When people come and see me, when they come and talk to me about shoplifting what I tell them is a shoplifting charge is an assault on your good character, it’s an assault on your good name. It’s not so much the punishment and by the way, if it’s a misdemeanor it’s 90 days in jail and a $1,000.00 fine. If it’s more serious, obviously, the penalties going up but that’s not what you really have to focus on initially. What you have to focus on is getting the charge dismissed because if you plead guilty to a shoplifting charge, it will remain on your criminal record until you’re able to get expunged, in other words, sealed. And it will be open to the public, it will be visible to background checking companies, landlords, colleges, universities, anybody with an internet ready device. And when you have a shoplifting conviction what it says about you is you cannot be trusted.

If a person cannot be trusted to go into a store, why would an employer then trust you with his or her money, his or her property, his or her clients? You need to have the charge dismissed. Not only do you need to have it dismissed, as some point, you need to have it expunged or what people usually refer to as sealed so that nobody ever finds it again. That’s the next step, get the case dismissed, and then get it expunged. It’s not enough to avoid jail time, although in some instances if you’re a repeat offender that may be enough. But in most instances if it’s your first or maybe even your second offense try to get the case dismissed because if it results in a conviction, again, it’s an assault. The collateral consequences are loss of employment, the inability to obtain credit, the inability to obtain housing, things of that nature will come back to haunt you so you need to move forward quickly. Retain an aggressive attorney that knows the prosecutors, that knows the law that knows the judges and move quickly to get the charges dismissed or at least some sort of resolution whereby you don’t end up with a permanent criminal conviction.

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