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Yes, Christmas shopping is expensive. But you know what's more costly? A criminal conviction. Not only could a shoplifting charge be expensive (from the costs of defending yourself and paying fines), but a shoplifting conviction could go on your record and stay there.
Here's how shoplifting could go on your record, and what you can do to take it off.
Picking Up a Shoplifting Charge
Under most state laws, shoplifting is included under criminal larceny statutes, which prohibit taking property without permission. Whether a charge goes on your record can depend on the severity of the charge. The severity of shoplifting charges generally depends on the value of what you are accused of stealing. For instance, low-level shoplifting charges could be dealt with through a criminal citation, or you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
If you've been accused of shoplifting, your best bet is probably to remain silent and contact a lawyer as soon as you can. There are ways to challenge a shoplifting charge, but they will depend on the circumstances of your case. If you are convicted or plead guilty to shoplifting, chances are it will go on your record.
Dropping a Shoplifting Charge
Just because a conviction is on your record, that doesn't mean it has to stay there. There is a legal process, known as expungement, which can remove criminal convictions from your record. Expungement is generally a one-time process whereby your criminal record is "sealed" or erased. Although the process can be limited to one charge, it may be possible to expunge multiple charges.
Whether a shoplifting conviction is eligible for expungement will depend on your case. Some factors include your age at the time of the incident, the severity of the shoplifting charge, and whether you have other criminal convictions on your record.