What are Shoplifting Laws in Arkansas?
Concealing and taking away merchandise belonging to a merchant from his store with the intention of avoiding paying for the same is called shoplifting. Like many other states in the U.S, Arkansas has also been often experiencing this crime however, the concerned authorities have been working consistently to bring things under control by drafting stern rules and regulations relating to the theft. Penalties are also made severe, especially for repeat offenders and the sentence for such persons ranges from jail terms, restitution to hefty fines, not to forget civic liabilities.
Shoplifting in Arkansas include activities such as removing the store goods from the shelves and concealing them under clothes, in another package or in a bag, altering containers and price tags, removing security tags, trying to alter the cash register, among several others. Arkansas identifies shoplifting as a serious crime and the offenders dealt with severely.
Arkansas State has consolidated numerous theft offenses into one section (Arkansas Penal Code 5-36-102) that also includes shoplifting. According to the law, theft or shoplifting is committed when a person willingly tries to cheat the merchant (store owner), thereby causing losses to him. The State provides the victims an opportunity to detain the suspects in a reasonable manner for a reasonable time period and question them; they can also summon the enforcement agencies during that time. Victims can also sue the offenders in the civil court for the return of the stolen merchandise, penalties or monetary compensation.
Penalties for Shoplifting in Arkansas
If the property was stolen is:
- Valued at $1000 or under, it is classified as a Class A misdemeanor that carries a prison sentence of up to 12 months along with a fine of up to $2500.
- Valued at $500 and is part of a theft series over a time period of 3 days, it is regarded as a class D felony that carries a sentence of up to 6 years prison term along with $10,000 in fine.
- Valued in the range of $1000-$5000 or a firearm valued under $2500, it is classified as a Class D felony that carries a sentence of up to 6 years prison term along with $10,000 in fine.
- Valued over $5000 but less than $25,000 or a firearm worth over $5000, it is regarded as a class C felony that carries a sentence of up to 3-10 years of jail term coupled with a fine of up to $10,000.
- Valued $25,000 or over, it is a class B felony that carries 5-20 years of jail sentence with a fine of up to $15,000.
Victim merchants can sue the shoplifters and the guardians (where shoplifters are minors) in the civil court for:
- Retail value of the goods if they are not returned in original condition; the victim can also ask the offender to pay an amount that is equal to the difference between the goods’ full retail value and its returned value.
- A civil penalty of $1000
- Reimbursement of the merchant’s attorney fees and court costs
Several counties in the state of Arkansas offer diversion programs to first-time, low-level offenders as an alternative to trial. The criminal charges against the accused, under such diversion programs, will be dropped if he completes the requirements such as community service and paying restitution. However, when a diversion program is not an option, a plea bargain can be arranged with the prosecutor wherein the accused can plead for reduced charges or a lighter sentence.
The accused can also consult an Arkansas legal professional if he has the least idea about the laws pertaining to shoplifting and plea options.
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