Shoplifting is typically a fairly minor crime, but it is a very common one. So if you’ve been charged with
shoplifting, I’m going to go through a list of things that you should be doing to help your case move
along smoothly and hopefully get a good resolution for you.

Shoplifting refers to typically stealing something from a business, so not stealing something from a
neighbor or from a stranger, but from an actual business. And they tend to proceed in a similar way in
every single case. So if you’ve been charged with shoplifting, there are a couple things that you should
do to make your case go smoothly.

The first thing is you need to figure out if the store is going to be asking for any restitution. You will
often see this in your charging documents. If you got caught before leaving the store with items then,
and the items were returned to the store, then odds are there’s not going to be any restitution.

If, however, they’re saying that you took items and left the store with those items without paying for
them, then the store’s going to want their money back. So it’s important for you to figure out if there is
restitution in the case, and if there is, you should have that money available to pay.

Now, typically you don’t want to go back to the store without talking to an attorney first, but you want
have that money available so that when it comes time to pay restitution, you can. And when I say when
it comes time to pay restitution, what I mean is that if you are found guilty of shoplifting and sometimes
even if you are not found guilty, but you want to get an alternate resolution to the case, then the state
or the court is going to want you to pay that restitution. So if you have it available, that will make that
process go more smoothly.

Next, I tend to recommend that my clients enroll in a theft awareness class. This is not something that is
universally ordered by the judge, but judges do seem to like people who have completed these
programs. So I typically request my clients do this class. It’s a relatively short class – a couple of hours at
most, and the fee is usually not that much ($50 or less).

Next, especially if this is a first-time shoplifting offense, I instruct my clients to do 24 hours of
community service in Montgomery County. Doing that community service will often, if you’ve done the
community service, you’ve never been charged before and there’s no restitution outstanding, you can
often get the case dismissed.

Not always, but often, even if you’re not in a position where the case can simply be dismissed, doing
that community service shows that you’re taking this case seriously and that you may get a better result
because you’ve done that community service.

Now, obviously as your attorney, I’ll be working hard to give you the best possible outcome, but if
you’ve done these simple things first, your case will go better. So if you’ve been charged with
shoplifting, with stealing from a store, you should reach out to an attorney as soon as you can. At Paré
and Associates, we are always happy to help.