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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 117460
Experience:  Attorney with over 20 years law enforcement, prosecution, civil rights and defense experience
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My 23 yr old daughter recently tried her hand at shoplifting

Resolved Question:

My 23 yr old daughter recently tried her hand at shoplifting (this was her first attempt) and was caught. This was at the Star Market chain. She was very shaken and terribly embarrassed. The total value of what she took was less than $25. She gave the store employee her name, address, soc. sec. number. She received a letter stating that a fine of $275 was payable to the store and must be send by certified check. The letter also stated that paying the fine does NOT exempt her from criminal prosecution. I am thinking that she should contact an attorney who could advise her what additional action, if any, she should take to prevent prosecution. What advice can you give me?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 8 years ago.
This fine is under the merchant recourse for shoplifting laws that have been enacted in many states. They are correct in that the fine does not absolve the party of criminal liability. Since this was her first offense, it is likely she can get a deferred sentence as a first offender, meaning she would likely get a fine (in addition to what she pays the store), some community service and a length of probation time and at the completion of all of that the charges will be dismissed and expunged (or she can apply for expungement upon dismissal). She should have an attorney represent her in the criminal matter, especially one that practices in the court she is appearing in because the attorneys can generally work out a better deal for the defendant than the defendant can work out for themselves (to save some money, she can try to go to court on her first appearance without an attorney and see if the prosecutor is willing to give her a reasonable deferred sentence and if not, just have her plead not guilty and continue the date and then hire an attorney). As far as the fine, if they will not negotiate for a lesser amount, she will need to pay (see if they will work out a payment arrangement if she needs it) and make sure she gets something in writing. Also, she can try to negotiate with them to drop the charges if she pays the entire fine in full up front, they do not have to do so, but may.

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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Well, I would also like to know, under these circumstances, what is the likelihood that she will be prosecuted? Thanks.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 8 years ago.
The likelihood is pretty certain that she will be prosecuted. Stores do not like to let these matters go because it sets bad precedent for them and once they get a reputation for not prosecuting, then shoplifting goes up (or so they say). Again, prosecution will all be a matter of how well you can plead or negotiate or your daughter can plead and negotiate with them to pay their fine and drop the charges. If they will not, then you will have to fight it in court to get the best deal possible.
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