Shoplifting Charges in Missouri

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

Missouri law treats shoplifting as a serious crime. Shoplifters in Missouri face criminal penalties such as fines and jail time, as well as civil lawsuits by victimized merchants to recover damages.

Missouri Shoplifting Laws

Shoplifting is punished as stealing in Missouri. Stealing consists of taking property that belongs to another person, without the person’s consent, or by means of deceit or coercion, and with the intention of depriving that person of the property (Missouri Revised Statutes 570.030). Actions such as altering price tags or concealing merchandise in a store can be used as evidence in a prosecution for stealing. Shoplifters are subject to criminal penalties, including jail time and fines, as well as civil penalties, as described below.

Missouri Shoplifting Criminal Penalties

Charge

Classification

Penalty

Theft of an item valued at less than $500

Class A misdemeanor under 570.030(8)

Jail time of up to one year and/or a fine up to $1,000

Theft of an item valued between $500 and $25,000, theft of a firearm, theft of certain other items

Class C felony under 570.030(3) or 570.030(4)

Jail time between one and seven years and/or a fine up to $5,000 or an amount not exceeding double the gain from the theft, up to $20,000

Theft of goods valued at $25,000 or more

Class B felony under 570.030(7)

Jail time between 5 and 15 years

Civil Liability

Merchants can sue adult and emancipated minor shoplifters (or the parents or guardians of unemancipated minor shoplifters) for damages in civil court (Missouri Revised Statutes 570.087). Merchants are entitled to the actual retail value of items stolen, reasonable court costs and attorney fees, and a penalty of between $100 and $250. Liability for parents or guardians of unemancipated minor shoplifters is limited to actual damages, and only if they have had physical custody of the minor in the past year.

Diversion and Restorative Justice Programs and Plea Bargaining

Pretrial diversion and restorative justice programs may be available to certain individuals accused of first-time and low-level crimes in Missouri. Upon completing the program requirements, which could include making restitution, performing community service, or undergoing counseling, the criminal charges against the accused will be dropped. Diversion programs are not available in all cases or to all accused individuals.

When diversion or restorative justice programs are not an option, the accused may be able to arrange a plea bargain with the prosecutor assigned to their case. Plea bargains, which are made available at the discretion of the prosecutor, generally involve agreeing to plead guilty in exchange for reduced charges or lesser sentencing.

Learn more about diversion and pretrial options.

Getting Legal Help

If you have been accused of shoplifting, it is imperative that contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. A defense attorney can help you explore your options, such as pursuing pretrial diversion programs, raising defenses, or negotiating plea bargains, in order to minimize the consequence of a shoplifting charge.

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