Shoplifting Charges in North Dakota

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

Shoplifting in North Dakota 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.

North Dakota Shoplifting Laws

Shoplifting is punished as theft in North Dakota. Theft is committed when a person takes or exercises unauthorized control over property, with the intent to deprive the owner of the property (North Dakota Century Code 12.1-23-02). A person who conceals unpurchased goods and carries them past the last cash register in a store will be presumed to have the intent to deprive the owner of the goods.

Under North Dakota’s Retail Theft Act, a merchant who reasonably believes that a person is shoplifting or has committed shoplifting may detain the person, in a reasonable manner, for a reasonable length of time, in order to take actions such as recovering the merchandise or alerting a peace officer.

Shoplifting charges become more serious and carry larger penalties as the dollar value of the stolen goods increases. In addition to facing criminal penalties, such as jail time and fines, shoplifters can be sued in civil court by victimized merchants for damages.

North Dakota Shoplifting Criminal Penalties




Theft of goods not exceeding $250

Class B misdemeanor

Jail time up to 30 days and/or a fine up to $1,000

Theft of goods valued between $250 and $500

Class A misdemeanor

Jail time up to one year and/or a fine up to $2,000

Theft of goods between $500 and $10,000 or theft of a firearm or certain other items

Class C felony

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

Theft of goods exceeding $10,000 in value

Class B felony

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

Civil Liability

Adult shoplifters or the custodial parents or legal guardians of unemancipated minor shoplifters can be sued in civil court by victimized merchants. Victimized merchants are entitled to receive the retail value of the stolen merchandise, exemplary damages up to $250, court costs, and reasonable attorney fees.

Pretrial Diversion and Plea Bargains

Pretrial diversion is available to certain individuals in North Dakota (Rule 32.2, N.D.R.Crim.P.). Generally, pretrial diversion agreements allow those charged with first-time or low-level crimes to avoid prosecution by fulfilling specific requirements, such as paying restitution and performing community service. Upon completion of the requirements, the charges will be dropped.

Accused individuals who are not eligible for pretrial diversion may be able to arrange a plea bargain with the prosecutor. Plea bargains are offered at a prosecutor's discretion, and typically involve the accused receiving lesser charges or lighter sentencing in exchange for a guilty plea.

Learn more about diversion and pretrial options.

Getting Legal Help

If you have been accused of shoplifting in North Dakota, you should contact an experienced criminal law attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can assist you in taking steps to minimize the consequences of shoplifting charges, such as pursuing a diversion agreement, raising defenses, or arranging a plea bargain.

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