Shoplifting Charges in Arkansas

Learn about the laws, penalties and civil consequences of a shoplifting charge in Arkansas. Find out if you can avoid a conviction and criminal record.

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Shoplifting is a serious crime in Arkansas, with criminal penalties including jail time and fines. Arkansas law also allows victimized merchants to file civil lawsuits against shoplifters for damages.

Shoplifting in Arkansas

Arkansas has consolidated a number of different theft offenses, including shoplifting, into one section of the penal code (Arkansas Code § 5-36-102). Theft is committed when a person knowingly takes or exercises unauthorized control over someone else's property, with the intent of depriving the rightful owner of the property. Offenders may be subject to the criminal penalties described below. These penalties become progressively more stringent as the dollar value of the stolen property rises.

Arkansas law provides merchants with the opportunity to detain suspected shoplifters in a reasonable manner, for a reasonable period of time, in order to question the suspect or summon law enforcement. In addition, victimized merchants can sue shoplifters in civil court for return of the stolen items or monetary awards and penalties.

Arkansas Shoplifting Criminal Penalties

Charge

Classification

Penalty

Theft of property valued at $1,000 or less

Class A misdemeanor under 5-36-103(b)(4)

Up to one year of jail time and/or a fine up to $2,500

Theft of property valued at $500 or less and taken as part of a series of thefts on three or more occasions over a three day period of time

Class D felony under 5-36-103(b)(3)

Up to six years of jail time and/or a fine up to $10,000

Theft of property valued between $1,000 and $5,000 or theft of a firearm worth less than $2,500

Class D felony under 5-36-103(b)(3)

Up to six years of jail time and/or a fine up to $10,000

Theft of property valued between $5,000 and $25,000 or theft of a firearm worth more than $5,000

Class C felony under 5-36-103(b)(2)

Between three and ten years of jail time and/or a fine up to $10,000

Theft of property valued at $25,000 or greater

Class B felony under 5-36-103(b)(1)

Between five and twenty years of jail time and/or a fine up to $15,000

Civil Penalties

Merchants who are the victims of shoplifting can sue adult shoplifters or the parents or guardians of shoplifters who are minors in civil court. Merchants can sue for:

  • the retail value of the merchandise, if not returned in sellable condition, or an amount equal to the difference between the value of the returned merchandise and its full retail value;
  • a civil penalty up to $1,000; and
  • reimbursement of the store owner's court costs and reasonable attorney fees.

Diversion Programs and Plea Bargaining

Some counties in Arkansas offer diversion programs to certain individuals accused of first-time or low-level crimes as an alternative to prosecution. If an accused completes the requirements of the program, which could include activities such as paying restitution and performing community service, the criminal charges will be dropped. When a diversion program is not available, it may be possible to arrange a plea deal through negotiation with the prosecutor assigned to the case. Prosecutors have the discretion to allow an accused to plead to a lesser charge or to receive a reduced sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.

Learn more about diversion and pretrial options.

Getting Legal Help

If you have been accused of shoplifting, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced Arkansas criminal attorney. Your attorney should be familiar with local laws and the availability of diversion programs, and can assist you in exploring defenses, plea options, or other ways of minimizing the consequences of the shoplifting charges.

by: , Attorney

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