Shoplifting Gone Wrong – When 1 + 1 = 3

Diane assumes that she will just be charged with Theft, a misdemeanor of the first degree.  In the worst case scenario, perhaps Assault, also a misdemeanor of the first degree, as well.  To Diane’s astonishment, she is not charged with either – she is charged with Robbery, a felony of the third degree.

Diane is shocked.  How can this happen?  She didn’t have a weapon.  She didn’t threaten to harm anyone.  She merely put a few items in her purse and shoved an asset protection officer.  She didn’t shove the asset protection officer to get the items, she already had them.  Furthermore, the shove wasn’t that hard.  The asset protection officer did not fall down and was not hurt.

As stated in Ohio Revised Code section 2911.02, entitled Robbery:

(A)   No person, in attempting or committing a theft offense or in fleeing immediately after the attempt or offense, shall do any of the following:

(1)     Have a deadly weapon on or about the offender’s person or under the offender’s control;

(2)    Inflict, attempt to inflict, or threaten to inflict physical harm on another;

(3)    Use or threaten the immediate use of force against another.

In the present case, Diane used force in fleeing immediately after committing the offense.  The use of force, no matter how slight, is sufficient to elevate a simple misdemeanor Theft to a felony-of-the-third-degree Robbery.

If convicted, the ramifications of a Robbery conviction are much more severe.  If the case had only been charged as a Theft, Diane would likely be eligible to participate in a pre-trial diversion program, in which the charge could ultimately be dismissed.  Or she would likely be offered a reduction of the charge to something less serious, like Unauthorized Use of Property.  Furthermore, after completion of her case, Diane would be eligible to have the case expunged.

With a Robbery conviction, Diane is now facing up to 60 months in prison.  Expungement is no longer an option, so this conviction would remain on Diane’s record FOREVER.  Even though the likelihood of getting probation (aka community control sanctions) remains rather high, the damage to Diane’s employability and any professional licenses is irreparable.

The above fact pattern is very common.  If you get yourself in such a situation, it is essential that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.  Time is of the essence.  Once a Robbery charge is filed with the Court, it can be very difficult to undo.