Shoplifting is a crime in Ohio that comes with serious penalties, including jail time and fines. Those dealing with shoplifting charges may also face civil lawsuits from merchants.
The criminal justice system charges shoplifters under Ohio’s general theft law because there is not a separate shoplifting statute. According to the law, theft occurs when someone exerts control or obtains property without consent from the owner with the purpose of taking the property away from the owner.
The classification of and maximum penalties for shoplifting depend on the value of items stolen:
- Under $1,000 in value (first-degree misdemeanor): $1,000 fine and 180 days in jail.
- Between $1,000 and $7,500 (fifth-degree felony): $2,500 fine and 6 to 12 months in jail.
- Between $7,500 and $150,000 (fourth-degree felony): $5,000 fine and 6 to 18 months in jail.
- Between $150,000 and $750,000 (third-degree felony): $10,000 fine and 1 to 5 years in jail.
- Between $750,000 and $1,500,000 (second-degree felony): $15,000 fine and 2 to 8 years in jail.
- $1,500,000 or more (first-degree felony): $20,000 fine and 3 to 10 years in jail.
There is also civil liability for shoplifters to consider. Merchants have the right to sue shoplifters to recover the value of the stolen property plus more.
Someone who faces shoplifting charges in Ohio may have many options to avoid or reduce the charges. For example, Ohio law allows for pre-trial diversion programs for first-time offenders who commit low-level crimes. Plea bargains and defenses to prove innocence are other methods.