Ohio residents who find themselves facing shoplifting charges may not think they have much to fear. It is a minor crime, right? No one is hurt by it, are they? The truth is, shoplifting is not a minor crime and business owners and consumers are hurt by it. The consequences of conviction can be significant, which is why having a criminal law attorney on one’s side may prove invaluable when fighting such a charge in court.

Shoplifting is defined as purposefully removing or attempting to remove goods from a place of business with the intent to not pay for them. Shoplifting is broken down into two different categories: petty theft and grand theft. It all comes down to the value of the merchandise one is accused of stealing.

A petty theft charge may be filed against a person who is accused of taking property valued at under $1,000. This is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by jail time — up to 180 days — and/or fines of up to $1,000. A grand theft charge may be filed against a person who is accused of taking property valued at more than $1,000. This is a felony level offense punishable up to 10 years in jail and fines of up to $20,000.

There are typically two ways in which one may be able to successfully fight a shoplifting charge. The first is by showing the court that there was a lack of intent to steal the merchandise. The second is to prove mistake of fact — that the accused is being wrongly accused. After a careful case review, one’s criminal law attorney can help one decide on a defense strategy and present it in an Ohio criminal court.