Q: I have been charged with retail theft, a misdemeanor. This was at a Giant Eagle the amount was around 150 in merchandise. The merchandise was in the cart I did not leave the store. I went to the front to get other merchandise. I was stopped. Nothing was concealed. The store is not seeking restitution as there was no merchandise taken. This is now in a court hearing in a few weeks this is a huge misunderstanding. What do I do how much jail time can I get? Is there any way out of this without a record? I am to start law school next fall. If I am convicted that is over. This is crazy.
A: You really, really, should hire a lawyer and go over all of the facts with him or her, and learn what your options are. You don’t always have to leave the store for a prima facie case of Retail Theft to be met. The statute speaks of “concealment”. I have had many clients who have not left the store but have concealed something on their person or in their cart, while in the store, and are charged. I don’t know what happened here but you may have a defense. If you assert you are innocent, your attorney can look at the video if there is any. He or she can advise you if you have a defense worth pursuing. If you don’t have a defense, and you have no criminal record, an attorney will know how to get you out of this with no record which will benefit your career endeavors immensely.