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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Legal > Shoplifting Defense Attorney

Shoplifting Defense Attorney Cost

How Much Does a Shoplifting Defense Attorney Cost?

low costSimple Case: $1,000-$3,000average costMedium: Going To Trial Can Run $5,000-$1,000+
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  Typical costs:
  • Having an attorney handle a guilty plea and diversion program application for shoplifting charges runs about $1,000-$3,000, depending on location and how much negotiation is required.
  • Attorney fees for going to trial can be $5,000-$10,000 or more, depending on the nature of the charges and the complexity of the case. Exact costs will vary based on location and the lawyer's experience and reputation. Some attorneys accept monthly payments for a shoplifting case.
  • To hire an attorney, you must pay an up-front fee called a retainer, which is based either on an estimated number of hours or a flat fee. A lawyer working on an hourly basis deducts the hourly rate (usually $100-$300/hour or more) from the retainer as the work is done. When the retainer is gone, you will be billed for additional money. A flat fee will cover a specific range of services, and often there's an additional fee if the case goes to trial.
  • If you want to be represented by an attorney (particularly if you're facing felony theft charges because of the value of the merchandise) but you can't afford one, you must ask the court to appoint a lawyer at government expense. You will need to provide the court with details about your finances. Nolo Press discusses how to get the court to appoint a lawyer
Related articles: Expungement, Criminal Attorney, Felony Defense Attorney, Drug Defense Attorney

What should be included:
  • Shoplifting is governed by state laws, so the charges and penalties will vary based on location. In most states, shoplifting items worth less than $200-$500 is a petty theft misdemeanor charge, while taking goods of greater value may bring a grand theft or larceny felony charge. provides an overview of shoplifting[1] .
  • Some states have diversion programs in which first-time misdemeanor offenders can do community service in exchange for having the charges dropped with no fines, no jail time and no record, while other states may impose some or all of these penalties. The nature of the charges brought against you (misdemeanor or felony) and the standard shoplifting penalties in your state will have a great deal to do with whether you'll need an attorney to help you navigate the legal system.
  • Anything you tell your attorney is confidential, but your attorney cannot lie to the court for you or knowingly offer a false defense.
  • explains what a criminal defense lawyer does[2] .
Additional costs:
  • If hiring an attorney on a flat fee basis, be sure you understand what is and is not included, and if there will be additional costs if your case goes to trial. Attorneys working on an hourly basis charge for any time spent answering your questions on the phone or by e-mail, as well as case-related expenses such as interviews, research or photocopies.
  • Court fees or fines vary widely depending on the charges and location, and are in addition to your attorney's fees.
  • Many stores will follow a civil claim demanding that you pay restitution both for the merchandise and their costs of investigation and legal fees. This runs about $50-$200 or more, depending on what's allowed under state law.
Shopping for a shoplifting defense attorney:
  • When you first meet with an attorney, know the exact charges against you, your court date, your bail amount and any other pertinent facts. Ask about the attorney's education, experience and area of specialty. The State Bar of Georgia provides a pamphlet on how to choose a lawyer.
  • The American Bar Association links to lawyer referral services by state[3] . Referrals are also available through the Martindale-Hubbell Legal Network's Lawyer Locator[4] .
  • Your attorney will provide you with a written fee agreement. Read it before signing and keep a copy for your records. Be sure you understand what is covered, and any other fees and expenses you might have to pay.
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
Shoplifting charge
Amount: $1,000.00 Total
Posted by: Dumb Idea in Clarksville, TN.Posted: September 26th, 2015 07:09PM
Type of Case: Petty theft under $500Firm: Runyon & Runyon
Charged $1000 flat-fee to take care of a petty theft charge (my first run-in with the law). Looking for outright dismissal or probation in exchange for dropping of charges.
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