If you are facing criminal charges for shoplifting in Mississippi, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as you can. Shoplifting is a serious crime that will be aggressively prosecuted by the state. Hiring an attorney to handle your case will help to minimize the consequences of your shoplifting arrest. Contact Tupelo criminal defense attorney William Housley today to learn more.
What is Shoplifting?
Shoplifting is typically understood to mean stealing property from a store. Mississippi shoplifting laws are actually a bit more expansive.
Taking Unlawful Possession of Property
In Mississippi, you can face criminal charges for shoplifting, as defined in MS Code § 97-23-93, if you:
- Willfully and unlawfully
- Take possession of merchandise owned, held, or displayed by a merchant
- With the intent and purpose of converting that property for your own use
- Without paying the merchant's stated price.
In other words, shoplifting is any act where you intentionally try to take property from a store without paying the full price.
Intent to Steal Presumed
You can also face charges for shoplifting in Mississippi even if your attempts are unsuccessful or if you demonstrate behavior that indicates you intend to commit the crime. You can automatically be considered to have the intent to steal if, when there is evidence of store ownership, you
- Conceal unpurchased merchandise
- Remove (or cause the removal of) merchandise from a store that has not been purchased
- Change, alter, or transfer a price tag
- Change, alter, or transfer a monitoring device
- Transfer items for sale from one container to another before they have been purchased
- Cause the register to reflect a price that is less than the merchant intended.
Use of Devices to Aid Shoplifting
It is also a crime to use certain devices to aid in the crime of shoplifting. Specifically, Mississippi law prohibits the possession or use of:
- Theft detection device removers, and
- Theft detection shielding devices.
If you unlawfully possess or use either of these devices to help you commit a shoplifting offense, the penalties for your crime can be aggravated.
Penalties for Shoplifting in Mississippi
Shoplifting can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in Mississippi. Two primary factors will dictate which charges you may face: the value of the stolen goods and your history of criminal behavior.
Shoplifting is a misdemeanor when the value of the stolen property is less than or equal to $1000 and you have no more than 1 prior shoplifting conviction.
When charged as a misdemeanor, shoplifting is punishable by:
- A maximum of 6 months in jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines.
If this is your first-time facing charges for misdemeanor shoplifting, you may be eligible for a pretrial diversion program. Successful completion of this program, which can require community service, counseling, and restitution, can lead to the dismissal of the charges against you.
Shoplifting is a felony when:
- The value of the stolen property is less than or equal to $1000 and you have at least two prior convictions; or
- The value of the stolen property exceeds $1000.
When charged as a felony, shoplifting is punishable by:
- 5-10 years in prison, and
- $5,000 - $10,000 in criminal fines.
Fighting Shoplifting Charges in Mississippi
Have you been arrested for shoplifting in Mississippi? If so, do not hesitate to contact Tupelo criminal defense attorney William Housley for help. Attorney Housley understands that your future is at stake and will fight to achieve the best possible outcome in your criminal case. Contact us to discuss your case.