Under Mississippi law, any person who willfully and unlawfully takes possession of any merchandise owned, held, offered or displayed for sale by a merchant, without paying for said merchandise is guilty of the crime of shoplifting.
This can occur through concealing the unpurchased merchandise, from removing the merchandise from the store, from altering, transferring or removing the price tag, from transferring the unpurchased merchandise from one container to another, or from causing the cash register to reflect a lower price.
A person who shoplifts in the state of Mississippi, and is convicted of the offense, for merchandise which is less than or equal to $500 (for a first shoplifting conviction), shall face a fine of not more than $1,000, and/or a jail sentence of not more than six months.
A second shoplifting conviction in the state of Mississippi, will bring the offender the same punishment as a first, however a third or subsequent shoplifting conviction will be considered a felony, rather than a misdemeanor, and can bring a fine as high as $5,000, and a prison term not to exceed five years. If the merchandise which is taken exceeds a value of $500, a felony will be charged, and the person will be punished under the Mississippi offense of grand larceny.
Civil Penalties for Shoplifting in the State of Mississippi
The state of Mississippi also criminalizes the use of any device which is meant to aid in shoplifting. This could include a device which is used to remove a security tag, or a lined bag which is designed to hide merchandise, and/or prevent an alarm from being triggered. There can also be criminal penalties associated with shoplifting in the state of Mississippi. Any adult or emancipated minor who is convicted on shoplifting charges could also be civilly liable to the victim; the merchant can sue in civil court, and are entitled, under Mississippi law, to three times the actual damages, or $200 (whichever is greater).
Long-term Consequences of Shoplifting in the State of Mississippi
Shoplifting is often a one-time thing which, later, brings serious regret from the offender. Perhaps money was tight, your family needed something you couldn’t afford, or, perhaps you simply acted on impulse. Unfortunately, if you do not have a savvy Mississippi attorney by your side who can ensure the court hears your side of the story, you could face the full weight of the court’s decisions, and those decisions could seriously affect your future. The long-term effects of a shoplifting conviction can include the following:
- You could spend a significant time in jail;
- That jail time could prohibit you from returning to your old job, or obtaining a new job, even one for which you are highly qualified;
- Your permanent criminal record (depending on whether your offense was a misdemeanor or a felony) could also preclude you from obtaining housing, obtaining a federal student loan, obtaining a professional license, or, in some cases, from owning a firearm;
- You could find your home and auto insurance rates increase due to your conviction for shoplifting;
- You could be required—at your own expense—to attend special classes;
- You could find your entry to certain foreign countries denied;
- If you are not a United States citizen, you may find yourself being deported, or
- You could find yourself inadmissible for a U.S. visa, or permanent resident status in the United States.
If you have been charged with shoplifting in the state of Mississippi, the very best thing you can do to protect your future is to speak with a knowledgeable Mississippi criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. Far too many people make the mistake of simply pleading guilty, when they would have a very good chance of obtaining a dismissal or a downgrading of the charges, if they hired an experienced attorney. Making a single mistake, such as shoplifting, does not mean you should face harsh punishments or be treated like a criminal.
Contact Our Jackson Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you are arrested and charged with a crime in Jackson, Hattiesburg, Meridian, or anywhere in the State of Mississippi, you need to fight these charges aggressively. The best way to do this is to hire an experienced Jackson criminal defense attorney immediately.
At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe in fighting aggressively for our clients and we can build a defense that is designed to expose the holes in the prosecution’s case against you. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at (601) 265-7766, or via the form below:
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.