Unique Aspects of Shoplifting Charges in Ocean City
Shoplifting is a different way of saying theft. The state has to prove that the defendant has taken and carried away the property of another without that person’s permission and with the intent to permanently deprive them of their property. Sometimes it is called shoplifting when the victim is a store. In Ocean City, it tends to happen in the shops along the boardwalk. If someone walks into a shop on the boardwalk, takes a tee-shirt, and walks out without paying for it, it would be considered a theft, however, it would be called shoplifting, because they took it from the store.
The crime is small but serious because, depending on the value of the item in question, the potential penalty could rise from a 90-day sentence to one of 18 months. It is also important to keep in mind that the possible sentencing could be much greater if a defendant has a prior conviction or prior convictions for theft. If you find yourself facing these charges, contact an attorney as soon as possible. A qualified local lawyer will be able to guide and advise you through the process with a greater understanding of the laws and repercussions.
Misdemeanor vs Felony Shoplifting
Shoplifting could be considered a felony, but it would require the removal of either multiple items whose combined value is significant or a small quantity of highly valuable items. Whether or not a theft is a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the value of the item or items that were taken. For example, a $9 shirt is a misdemeanor. On the other hand, shoplifting a $1,500 plasma television is a felony. Depending on the value of the item, it could be a felony. The important thing to remember about the value of the item is that it determines what the potential penalty could be. If a person is stealing an item that is at least $1,000 in value, it causes the crime to become a felony and the penalty is quite a bit higher. In fact, someone facing a felony theft charge would potentially be facing a maximum of 10 years.
Importance of Contacting a Lawyer
Many people make the mistake of speaking to the police without consulting an attorney, operating under the assumption that a simple explanation of the circumstances will be enough to dispel the criminal charges. This is a well-meaning but inaccurate reading of the situation. In fact, the majority of the time when a police officer has been called to the scene, or is at someone’s door to talk to them, they have most likely already made up their mind that they are speaking to the suspect. Their goal is not to determine whether or not someone is guilty; rather, they assume guilt and are simply there to collect information in order to close up any remaining loopholes in the story. Because of this, it is essential to get advice from someone who has your best interest in mind before speaking with law enforcement.
It is important to understand that everyone has the right to protect themselves from self-incrimination. They do not have to speak with the police and they absolutely have the right to say to a police officer, “I’m going to contact my attorney first and then make the decision about whether or not to speak with you.” This is a crucial right, because everything that a person says can be used against them in court.
Someone facing charges should contact an attorney immediately. If you have not yet been charged but expect that the charges are forthcoming, it is advisable as well. A person does not have to be charged before seeking counsel from an attorney, and the farther in advance one can be informed of what to expect and how to ward off existing or potential charges, the sooner they can come to a desirable resolution.