Shoplifting Charges in West Virginia

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

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Shoplifting in West Virginia 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.

West Virginia Shoplifting Laws

The crime of shoplifting is broadly defined in West Virginia law. Shoplifting includes actions such as concealing merchandise, taking merchandise past the last pay station, altering or removing price tags, causing the cash register to “under-ring” merchandise, and transferring merchandise into a different container, with the intention of taking the merchandise without paying the purchase price. Criminal and civil penalties for shoplifting are described below.

West Virginia Shoplifting Criminal Penalties

Charge

Classification

Penalty

First offense conviction for shoplifting merchandise with a value up to $500

Misdemeanor under West Virginia code §61-3A-3(a)(1)

Fine up to $250

First offense conviction for shoplifting merchandise with a value exceeding $500

Misdemeanor under West Virginia code §61-3A-3(a)(2)

Fine between $100 and $500 and/or jail time of up to 60 days The fine may not be suspended.

Second offense conviction for shoplifting merchandise with a value up to $500

Misdemeanor under West Virginia code §61-3A-3(b)(1)

Fine between $100 and $500 and/or jail time of up to six months. The fine may not be suspended.

Second offense conviction for shoplifting merchandise with a value exceeding $500

Misdemeanor under West Virginia code §61-3A-3(b)(2)

Minimum $500 fine and between six months and one year of jail time

Third offense conviction, regardless of the value of the merchandise

Felony under West Virginia code §61-3A-3(c)

Fine between $500 and $5,000 and one to 10 years of jail time. The one-year jail sentence is a minimum mandatory sentence, and probation may not be substituted. However, house arrest may be used as an alternative.

In addition to the penalties described above, in any instance of a shoplifting conviction, the court will order the defendant to pay the merchant the greater of $50 or double the value of the stolen merchandise.

Civil Liability

Merchants who are victims of shoplifting may file a civil suit against the shoplifter. Shoplifters are liable for actual damages if the merchandise is not recovered by the merchant or is damaged, as well as additional damages, a penalty equaling the greater of $50 or double the value of the stolen merchandise (if not already paid to the merchant as part of a criminal suit), and costs.

Pretrial Diversion and Plea Bargains

Under West Virginia law, prosecutors can enter into pretrial diversion agreements with certain accused individuals as an alternative to prosecution. If an accused completes the requirements of the agreement, which often include paying restitution and attending classes or counseling, the criminal charges will be dropped.

If pretrial diversion is not available, the accused may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor. Plea bargains usually involve pleading guilty in exchange for lesser charges or reduced sentencing. The availability of a plea bargain depends on the willingness of the prosecutor to grant leniency based on the circumstances.

Learn more about diversion and pretrial options.

Getting Help

If you have been accused of shoplifting in the state of West Virginia, it is imperative that you get legal help. A qualified attorney can assist you in exploring diversion programs, defenses, plea bargains, or other options to mitigate the severity of West Virginia's shoplifting penalties.

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