Thanks to heartwarming scenes in sitcoms and after school movies in the 80s and 90s, many people assume that shoplifting isn’t a serious crime. Whether you face charges related to shoplifting or have a child accused of stealing from a retail establishment, you should very carefully consider all of your options.
Nebraska law enforcement and criminal courts take shoplifting charges seriously, so you need to do the same. Shoplifting, like any form of theft, can result in jail time, fines and other criminal penalties. There is also the lifelong impact of a theft conviction on your criminal record to consider.
Shoplifting is more than the act of stealing
Advances in loss prevention technology, including doorway sensors and security cameras, have made it easier for businesses to catch would-be thieves in the act. Getting caught before you leave the store does not mean that you have not committed a crime.
Nebraska law is very clear that any act related to hiding an item for sale or switching or altering barcodes or price tags is also a crime. The law clearly states that actions taken with the intent of depriving a merchant of the value of the goods involved is a crime in itself, even if you never make it out of the store. If there is video footage or eyewitness testimony regarding an attempt to conceal an item in your clothing, around a cart or inside another product, that may be sufficient grounds for criminal charges.
The value of the items will determine the potential penalties
Like many other states, Nebraska penalizes theft offenses based on the value of the items someone steals or attempts to steal. The higher the overall value, the greater the potential consequences. Previous theft convictions can also impact the potential consequences.
First-time offenders who face accusations of shoplifting or attempting to shoplift items worth less than $200 face Class II misdemeanor charges that carry up to six months in jail and fines of as much as $1,000. First-time offenders accused of theft of items valued between $200 and $500 face Class I misdemeanors that carry sentences of up to a year in jail and fines of up to $1,000.
Those with previous convictions accused of taking items worth less than $200 face Class I misdemeanors. Those accused of taking items worth less than $200 with three or more previous convictions on their record face Class IV felonies with penalties of up to five years in prison and fines as high as $10,000.
Those accused of taking items worth substantially more can face felony charges. Goods valued between $500 and $1,500 carry Class IV felony charges, while items worth more than $1,500 could result in Class III felony charges. You could be sentenced to as many as 25 years in prison and have to pay fines of $15,000 if convicted.