Shoplifting is the crime of stealing items from any sort of store. These crimes are outlined in the California Penal Code §484. Theft in California is divided into two categories: petty theft and grand theft. In most cases, shoplifting is considered petty theft.
Value Is Key in Shoplifting Cases
If you have been charged with shoplifting, your penalties will be based on the value of the items that you stole.
Here are some of the sentencing guidelines for shoplifting:
- If the property is valued at less than $50 the crime will be considered an infraction with a fine up to $250 as a penalty.
- If the property is valued at between $50 and $950, the crime will be charged as a misdemeanor with a mandatory fine between $50 and $1,000. Individuals may also face up to six months in jail for first-time conviction.
- If the property stolen is valued at $950 or greater, the theft is considered grand theft and considered a misdemeanor or felony depending on the values. If the charge is based on stealing a firearm, jail time may last up to three years. In other instances shoplifting may come with incarceration of up to one year.
These laws concerning value have a significant impact on the way that your case will be handled. For example, if you steal one pair of jeans from a Macy's, you will not receive very harsh penalties. If you steal a diamond ring from that Macy's store, the penalties will be much harsher.
To prove that you are guilty of shoplifting, the prosecution must provide or introduce evidence that you took property from a retail location or deprived another of their rightful property with full intention. If the prosecution cannot show these factors to be true beyond a reasonable doubt, you may be able to avoid conviction.
Some common defenses in shoplifting cases include:
- You did not intend to steal the item
- The item actually belonged to you
- The person who owned the item consented to you taking it
- You were falsely accused
Sometimes individuals will accidentally walk out of a store with an item in their hand, or will purchase an item and then leave the store, only to be accused of shoplifting. Allow us to help you with your shoplifting defense in hopes of helping you avoid serious charges. Contact a Santa Ana shoplifting defense lawyer at our firm today!