Shoplifting is viewed by some people as a minor crime. While it is true that shoplifting charges aren't nearly as serious as murder charges, you might still have to deal with very harsh consequences if you are convicted of the shoplifting charge. If you are facing this type of charge, you should carefully consider how your defense is going to be handled.
One important thing for you to do is to retain an attorney. Even if the shoplifting charge is being handled as a misdemeanor, you can still have very serious effects that can go far beyond any court-imposed penalties that are handed down.
An attorney can do some very important things for your case that you won't necessarily be able to do. Defense attorneys work with the prosecutors to determine if there are any plea arrangements that can be used to resolve a case. Oftentimes, these prosecutors will only work with defense counsel and not directly with defendants.
If you end up not resolving your case through a plea deal and go to a trial, your defense attorney can help you to learn about how the case can affect you from a criminal standpoint, as well as how a conviction might affect your life. He or she can also help you to decide on a method for your defense.
For a shoplifting charge, you might face penalties that include probation, incarceration, fines, and restitution. The value of the merchandise involved and your criminal record are usually used to determine what penalties you might face. If you have prior convictions or if the value of the merchandise was considerable, the penalty will probably be a bit more severe than a case involving a person without a criminal history or merchandise that was very inexpensive.
Source: FindLaw, "Do I Need a Lawyer for Shoplifting?," Ephrat Livni, Esq., accessed Aug. 12, 2016