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Can Shoplifting Charges be Dropped by the Store?

The Home Depot

Shoplifting Charges

Frequently, new clients are concerned with whether or not a retail store, Walmart, Target, Macys, Home Depot, or the like, can simply drop their shoplifting charges without going to court. The simple answer is usually: no. Don't waste the time trying to call and speak to the store.


It is important to start building your defense quickly. Theft crimes can carry harsh penalties and can leave a mark on your record. Contact our attorneys at Zeliff | Wattson to begin putting together a winning defense that will clear your good name.

If you or a loved one are facing shoplifting charges, schedule a case review today to start building your defense.

Can the Store Drop my Shoplifting Charges?

Once the store calls in the police, the investigation and prosecution get turned over to the city the store is in, or the State of Georgia. While the stores could make it known that they do not wish to have the case further prosecuted, most do not. In fact, virtually all of the big box retail stores have a strict prosecution policy for shoplifting and theft crimes. They see bending the policy as a weakness that will ultimately lead to more theft from their stores. For this reason, once the cops arrive on the scene, the investigation gets turned over to them, and they either take suspects to jail or issue citations requiring court appearance on shoplifting charges.

While we do not negotiate with stores usually, we will begin the negotiation process as soon as possible with the court prosecutor on your behalf. Remember, the prosecutor has the final say in negotiations in the case, not the store.

Do I Pay the $150 Demand Letter?

In addition to turning the case over to the police for prosecution, most stores will have you sign waivers and even agreements to pay money if you are caught shoplifting. A $150 demand letter is very common, and I am seeing more instances where clients were forced to sign this document, and even make a payment, on the spot, before being arrested! While this $150 demand for payment is currently legal under Georgia law, it does not affect your criminal prosecution and paying it will not somehow make the case go away. In fact, you are giving your money to them for nothing. There is no benefit to paying this demand. Like any other civil demand letter, it can be litigated should they choose. (To date, I have never seen a client receive any more than 2-3 of these empty demand letters before they stop.)

If you are receiving letters and notices, even on an attorney's letterhead, demanding money for the incident, call us, not them. Unlike these California, Florida, and New York debt collectors, we will help you actually win your case and clear your arrest record.

Avoiding paying unnecessary fines and fees. Contact the attorneys that will have your back

Can Shoplifting Come Off My Record?

Virtually all Metro Atlanta and Forsyth County Courts have room for negotiation on first-time shoplifting offenders. If you have been previously convicted of shoplifting, or similar theft crimes, those charges could preclude you from a typical first offender or pretrial program. Typically, for first time shoplifting crimes, we negotiate for a combination of:

  • community service
  • payment of a fee and any money owed to the store
  • cognitive skills counseling
  • hold-open period (usually 1/2 the length of longer probation sentences)

In exchange, if all negotiated requirements are successfully completed, we always negotiate for your record to be expunged (record restriction) under Georgia record restriction laws. This will help your record be as hidden from public view as possible. Depending on the court your case is pending in, we can also apply for jail and supplemental court records to be sealed as well.

Will a Shoplifting Charge Affect My Immigration Status?

YES. A shoplifting charge is a crime of theft that can absolutely damage your immigration status, whether you are on a visa or even a legal permanent resident (green card holder). Contact us immediately if you are not a citizen and have pending shoplifting charges. There are very strict requirements in dealing with your case so it does not impact your status. Fortunately, our lawyers know exactly how to handle immigration issues in shoplifting cases and work with a fantastic network of immigration specialists in the event we need to have a more in depth opinion on the potential immigration consequences of any case outcome.

Can I Start Counseling Before Court? Will I look Guilty if I do?

Absolutely. We have many clients who come to us already working with a therapist or counselor prior to being charged in their case. We encourage and embrace clients bettering themselves, and, it will actually help us defend your case in court. There is no specific requirement on what type of counselor or therapist you use; a licensed professional counselor (LPC), psychologist, or similar therapist would all be just fine. We find that many of our clients benefit from discussing not only an alleged incident that results in legal issues, BUT, discussing life and all the challenges we face. Remember, our number one goal is to ensure that you, as a person, come out of a legal situation better than when you started. Therapy can absolutely help and will never be held against you. We will discuss any release of this information with you prior to discussions or negotiations even being held.

Why Choose Zeliff | Watson for My Case?

Both Peter and Evan have over a decadeĀ of shoplifting defense under their belts. We have put together a system of defending shoplifting crimes that will benefit you from Day 1 and make your case more manageable and allow us to achieve better results.

At your first appointment, we will give you, in writing, some suggested requirements to start before the court date. In our experience, taking proactive measures is the best way to defend shoplifting crimes.

Trust a firm that will put you and your future first. Schedule a consultation to get started!

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