A first offense shoplifting charge carries the potential of up to a one year jail sentence. While the vast majority of those charged with shoplifting for the first time in Rhode Island do not realistically face incarceration, it is possible. Shoplifting in Rhode Island is a misdemeanor criminal offense.
There are no mandatory financial penalties for a misdemeanor shoplifting charge. If an individual pleads guilty or nolo contendre, the Court will impose Court costs which are currently slightly under $100.
Frequently, Judges will order restitution as a part of any shoplifting sentence. In that case, the accused will be required to reimburse or pay back the establishment that was the victim of the shoplifting offense. In the event that the goods taken have been recovered in marketable condition, Rhode Island Judge's will typically impose a charitable contribution in an equivalent value of the goods taken.
In the event that an individual is not incarcerated on a shoplifting charge, there are typically three sentences that can be imposed: (1) one year suspended jail sentence with one year of probation, (2) one year of straight probation, and (3) a one year filing.
If an individual in Rhode Island is sentenced to one year suspended jail sentence with one-year probation on a shoplifting charge they have been “convicted” of a criminal offense and this offense will now count as a “prior” offense under the shoplifting statute. Additionally, they face the possibility of up to one year of incarceration if they cannot successfully complete their probationary term. They will be required to wait at least 5 years after the completion of their probation prior to moving to have the case expunged.
When an individual is sentenced to one-year probation on a shoplifting charge, they have not been “convicted” under Rhode Island law. This will not count as a “prior” offense under the shoplifting statute. However, they still face the possibility of one year of incarceration if they cannot successfully complete their probationary term and they must also wait at least 5 years after the completion of their probation prior to moving to have the case expunged.
Lastly, if an individual has their first offense shoplifting case “filed” they will be required to keep the peace and be of good behavior for the one year they are on their filing. If they cannot complete their one year filing successfully, they are subject to further sentencing on the case. But unlike a probationary sentence, individuals are eligible to have their case sealed and expunged upon completion of their filing.