Do I need a lawyer for my misdemeanor shoplifting or theft of property case in Arkansas even if I’m guilty?

In my last post I explored the minimum of what it takes to be convicted of theft of property/shoplifting. If you think you’re guilty of shoplifting in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, or Van Buren Arkansas, go and read that post, it might change your mind.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.

So, now that you’re back, let’s explore this week’s question: Do I need a lawyer for my misdemeanor shoplifting case? Obviously my advice will be yes, but at least hear me out as to why.

Shoplifting Charges in Arkansas

Pictured: Me After you pay me to represent you in your shoplifting case.

1. If you shoplifted from Wal-Mart, they are going to look up every other incidence you have shoplifted and try to bring those charges against you.

If you have been caught shoplifting, odds are you have done it before and gotten away with it. Wal-Mart has a very impressive way of finding people who have shoplifted and comparing them to previous unsolved shoplifting incidents.  One time I represented a guy who had been caught shoplifting red-handed. It was only about $5 worth of stuff, but when I called the Asset Protection guys at that Wal-Mart, they apparently had video of him doing this about 5 times prior. After watching the videos and confirming that my client had in fact stolen these items, I struck a deal.


This guy looks like the guy from this story

In order to get their money back for the stolen items, the Asset Protection guys would have to fill out hours of paperwork and my client would be charged and convicted of 6 different counts of shoplifting and theft of property. That would look terrible on his record. However, these asset protection guys do not want to do hours of paperwork, so I offered that if he paid back the value of the items he stole, would they drop all of the charges accept the one they had already filed? They agreed, and said they would probably do that every time in the future if I called them before the paperwork had been filed. Spoiler alert: They’ve dropped the additional charges every time since this case over a year ago.

2. Sometimes even if you’re guilty as sin, the prosecutor and judge still might keep the charge off your record.

This one is pretty self explanatory. Sometimes I can convince the powers that be to make the official record make it look like you have been found not guilty, even though you totally did it. Some jurisdictions do this, some don’t.

The NSA, FBI, CIA, and etc will still be able to see dropped charges, and probably know which shirt you were wearing when you did it.

The NSA, FBI, CIA, and etc will still be able to see dropped or sealed charges even if they are off your record, and probably know which shirt you were wearing when you did it.

3. If you are a non-U.S. citizen and going to be found guilty, if the court puts you on 1 year of probation or Suspended Imposition of Sentence, then you could be in big trouble.

Immigration considers Theft of Property/Shoplifting to be a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude, which is very serious. Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude can be classified as misdemeanors or felonies, but their definition does not mirror Arkansas’ distinction between the two. Furthermore, Immigration defines a felony as any crime where the punishment was one year or more (or where the statute is defined as a felony by the State). So, if you are put on 1 year probation or SIS for a misdemeanor, then immigration will treat you as having a felony conviction for a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude. Under some circumstances this can lead to your removal (deportation) from the United States.

An attorney can often convince the judge or prosecutor to make your probation last less than a year, which although may not be ideal, it is much better to get a misdemeanor conviction as opposed to a felony one.

Good luck getting back over the wall if you get deported :(

Pictured: It might be hard to come back if you’re deported 😉

4. A Theft of Property/Shoplifting Conviction can be changed to another type of crime, even if the prosecutor wants it to stay on your record.

Even if you did steal something, a prosecutor might offer to change your Theft of Property charge to Disorderly Conduct or literally anything else. This can be helpful for immigration purposes and because:

5. If you are convicted of shoplifting or theft of property then the state can prevent you from getting (or revoke) a license in many professions.

For example, it is against state law to work in a nursing home within 10 years of being convicted of shoplifting or theft of property even if you get it expunged or sealed!

Thanks to the Dodd-Frank Act, you won’t be able to work in the banking or financial industries without an FDIC waiver, which isn’t guaranteed to be given.

You can potentially be denied a nursing license, a law license, a medical license, or an insurance agent license with one of these convictions, why risk it?

6. An attorney can potentially convince the judge or prosecutor to reduce the penalty.

For a misdemeanor conviction of theft of property, you are technically facing up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines, plus restitution. Now, I would be shocked that a first time offender would spend another day in jail if they negotiated a plea bargain and decided not to go to trial. However, in some jurisdictions the court requires 3 days jail, or 72 hours of community service, to pay a restitution that is more than the value of the items you stole, or 21 days of electronic ankle monitoring and 1 year of probation, and if you mess up during that one year they can throw you in jail for another full year!

An attorney can help try to alleviate some of those penalties, or eliminate them entirely.

How can an attorney do all of these things with a losing case? Lots of different ways, usually it includes groveling, bluffing, a friendly smile, and a good professional relationship with the local prosecutor.

Sometimes this is how the prosecutor responds.

Pictured: Prosecutors in Arkansas (or who they think they are)

If you need a criminal defense attorney in Fort Smith, Fayetteville, or Van Buren, Arkansas (and surrounding areas) then give us a call at 479-782-1125.



Go to Top