Many states treat shoplifting as a distinct crime involving the theft of retail property, with penalties differing from those for other theft crimes. However, Missouri law treats shoplifting as any other theft with prosecution as a misdemeanor or felony.
The following criteria apply when applying penalties for shoplifting as theft in Missouri.
The Value of the Property
Stealing property or services worth less than $150 can result in a fine of $500 for a first-time offender. However, when the value is between $150 and $500, the penalties are much harsher and include a fine of up to $1,000 with a maximum one-year prison sentence.
However, when the value of stolen items exceeds $500, misdemeanor shoplifting charges no longer apply, and offenders may face felony convictions. For example, those who steal property and services worth between $500 and $25,000 may go to prison for up to seven years and pay $10,000 fines.
The Number of Offenses
It is important to note that repeat offenders face harsher penalties for shoplifting regardless of the value of what they steal. Therefore, anyone who repeatedly shoplifts items from a store, even those worth less than $150, automatically faces fines and jail time.
The Type of Property
The type of property someone steals can play a significant role in determining shoplifting penalties. For example, first-time offenders who steal animals from pet stores face Class E felony charges carrying up to $15,000 in fines and a four-year prison term. The most severe penalties accompany theft of anything Missouri statute 570.030 lists, including a dealership’s machinery containing anhydrous ammonia or liquid nitrogen, firearms and motor vehicles.
Intentional or accidental shoplifting can impact your employment, credit options, and other aspects of your life. However, minimizing the charges against you can lead to a better outcome.