Shoplifting in the state of Mississippi is defined as when someone wilfully and unlawfully takes possession of any merchandise for sale by any merchant or store, with the intention and purpose of converting such merchandise to his or her own use without paying the merchant's stated price. (Source: MS Code, Sec. 97-23-93.) Shoplifting is a serious crime that is committed by people from all walks of life. Being charged and having to face a judge at court are embarrassing and stressful enough, but even worse is the possibility of receiving a permanent conviction. A permanent conviction would forever brand you as a thief and carry a lifetime of negative consequences.
For shoplifting cases of merchandise $500 or less in value, the offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1000, or six months in jail, or both. If you're a first-time offender charged with shoplifting in Southaven, Mississippi or the North Mississippi area, you're biggest concern is whether this offense will stay on your record. Fortunately, the law does allow shoplifting charges to be expunged. For representation in your case, and to insure that it stays off your record, contact a Southaven shoplifting attorney.
How your case is handled is going to depend on the particular judge and the prosecutor. Some cases will require a guilty plea followed by a period of probation. Some cases are deferred, meaning that the court handles the case without a guilty plea. The case is taken under advisement by the judge for a period of time. The defendant may be required to enroll in a theft class, pay restitution to the store, or complete a number of hours of community service.
At the end of probation or at the end of the deferment, the charge may be dismissed. A Southanven, MS criminal defense lawyer can help you through this process and then petition the court to expunge the matter from your record. Once it is expunged, you regain the status you held before being charged. That is, you do not have to disclose to anyone that you were charged, and all public records of the case are destroyed. The state of Mississippi will keep a private record of the case.
How long can it be before your Mississippi shoplifting charge can be expunged? Like with most conditions, it depends on the judge, but generally it could be six months to a year. All court costs, fines, restitution, and other requirements must be completed and paid in this time.
For help with your shoplifting charge, contact Southaven, MS criminal defense lawyer Patrick Stegall. For first-time offenders, Mr. Stegall can represent you in court, enroll you in a program that will dismiss the charge, and file the necessary paperwork to expunge it off your record for good. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (901) 205-9894.