Shoplifting Charges in Mississippi

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

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Shoplifting in Mississippi is a crime with serious penalties, including potential fines and jail time. In addition to facing criminal penalties, shoplifters can be sued by merchants in civil court to recover damages.

Mississippi Shoplifting Laws

Mississippi law defines shoplifting broadly to include:

  • concealing merchandise that has not been paid for
  • removing or causing the removal of merchandise without paying
  • altering price tags or anti-theft devices
  • moving the merchandise into a different container
  • causing the cash register to "under-ring" the merchandise

(Mississippi Code § 97-23-93)

Mississippi also criminalizes the use of devices designed to aid in shoplifting under Miss. Code § 97-23-93.1. Individuals are prohibited from using devices such as tools designed to remove security tags or lined bags designed to hide merchandise and prevent alarms from being triggered. Merchants have the legal right to question individuals suspected of shoplifting in a reasonable manner (Miss. Code § 97-23-95).

Criminal penalties, such as jail time and fines, and civil penalties for shoplifting are described below.

Mississippi Shoplifting Criminal Penalties

Charge

Classification

Penalty

Theft of merchandise valued at $500 or less with no more than one prior conviction

Misdemeanor under 97-23-93(5)(a)

Jail time of up to six months and/or a fine up to $1,000

Theft of merchandise valued at $500 or less with two or more prior shoplifting convictions

Felony under 97-23-93(6)

Jail time of up to five years and/or a fine up to $5,000

Theft of merchandise valued at greater than $500

Felony under 97-23-95(7)

Jail time of up to 10 years and/or fines up to $10,000

Civil Liability

Adult and emancipated minor shoplifters (or the parents or legal guardians of unemancipated shoplifters, in certain cases) are civilly liable to the victimized merchants. Merchants can sue in civil court and are entitled to three times the actual damages sustained or $200, whichever is greater, as well as reasonable attorney fees and court costs.

Pretrial Diversion and Intervention Programs and Plea Bargaining

Certain individuals accused of first-time and low-level crimes in Mississippi may be eligible for pretrial diversion or pretrial intervention programs. After successful completion of program requirements, which could include performing community service, undergoing a probationary period, and making restitution, the criminal charges will be dropped.

When pretrial intervention or diversion programs are not available, plea bargaining opportunities may exist at the discretion of the prosecutor. Plea bargaining typically involves pleading guilty in exchange for reduced charges or a lesser sentence.

Getting Legal Help

If you have been accused of shoplifting in Mississippi, it is imperative that you consult an experienced criminal law attorney. A qualified defense attorney can help you explore your options, including pursuing diversion or intervention programs, raising defenses, and negotiating plea bargains, in order to improve the outcome of your case.

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