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What’s the difference between petty theft and shoplifting?

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2024 | Misdemeanors |

Petty theft and shoplifting may sound like the same offense, but in Ohio, they have distinct legal definitions and implications. Understanding these differences is crucial, especially for individuals who may find themselves or someone they know facing related charges.

Petty theft defined by law

According to Ohio law, petty theft occurs when someone knowingly obtains or exerts control over property or services valued at less than $1,000 without the owner’s consent. Petty theft is a misdemeanor offense, which can lead to penalties including jail time and fines.

Shoplifting is a form of petty theft

Shoplifting specifically refers to the act of stealing merchandise from a retail establishment. It falls under the umbrella of petty theft when the value of the merchandise is less than the $1,000 threshold. While shoplifting is not defined as a separate offense by state law, it’s prosecuted using the same statute that governs petty theft.

The penalties

The consequences for both petty theft and shoplifting are similar in Ohio. A first-degree misdemeanor can result in up to 180 days in jail and fines up to $1,000. It’s important to note that repeated offenses can escalate charges, potentially leading to felony theft charges with more severe penalties.

So, shoplifting is a form of petty theft. Regardless of the nature of the offense, it can be an intimidating experience to face either a petty theft or shoplifting charge in Ohio. If it’s your first offense, remember you don’t have to head to court blind.  A legal professional may be able to guide you through the procedure, advise you on your defense options and protect your rights in court.

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