California law defines shoplifting as entering a business establishment or store with the intent to carry away merchandise with a value of $950 or less without the owner’s consent. Shoplifting can tarnish your reputation and lead to jail time. If you are charged with shoplifting in Los Angeles, you may need to reach out to our dedicated lawyers at Los Angeles Criminal Attorney for legal guidance.
What is Shoplifting?
Shoplifting is often referred to as petty theft. But, under the law, shoplifting is a type of theft that is classified under petty theft. PC 495.5 defines this offense as the act of taking items from a store without the owner’s consent and with the intent to permanently keep the item to yourself.
Note that you do not need to take away the item from the store for you to be charged with shoplifting. You could still face charges if you specifically went into the store with the intent to steal. You are likely to face extra charges like petty theft as a separate charge if you manage to walk from the store with the stolen item.
You may also be charged with shoplifting if you intended to carry out the act but ended up being caught before leaving the store. Concealing an item from the store is enough to have you charged with shoplifting. Hiding the item to avoid paying for it is also considered shoplifting. Other examples of shoplifting include manipulating goods listed on sale, changing the price tag, or changing item packaging to avoid paying for part of the goods.
Even though shoplifting is mainly presumed as a non-serious charge, a conviction for this offense may have a negative effect on your life, and it can also lead to hefty fines and jail time.
Elements of Shoplifting
There are certain elements that the prosecutor has to prove for you to be convicted of shoplifting. These elements include:
The defendant stole the item from the store
For you to be convicted of shoplifting, the prosecutor must prove that you took away the item from the store. He/she can prove this by using eyewitnesses or CCTV cameras available in the store.
The defendant took the item with no intention of giving it back to its rightful owner
The prosecutor must prove that you as the defendant had plans to conceal the items without the owner’s permission and that you did not intend to give them back or care if the owner would experience any losses.
The defendant took the item far from the owner for a long period without the consent
For a shoplifting charge to be considered valid, the prosecutor has to show that the defendant willingly and intentionally took another person’s item and moved it to a different location which the rightful owner is not familiar with. The prosecutor must also be able to show the amount of time that the item was separated from the owner.
The defendant did not pay for the item
The prosecutor should also show that you were in possession of the item and you tried sneaking it out of the store without paying for it. The prosecutor can use testimonies from security guards or CCTV footage to prove this.
Effects of Proposition 47 on shoplifting
The effects of Proposition 47 on shoplifting in California are likely to vary depending on the specific circumstances involved. However, it is worth noting that Proposition 47 reduced the maximum penalty for petty theft from a felony to a misdemeanor, which means that shoplifting offenses that would previously have been punishable by up to six years in state prison are now only punishable by up to one year in county jail. This change may result in fewer people being incarcerated for shoplifting offenses, but it is difficult to say definitively how much of an effect it will have.
Shoplifting Penalties in California
The penalties for shoplifting in California vary depending on the value of the merchandise stolen and whether the offender is a first-time offender or a repeat offender.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Shoplifting
If you are caught shoplifting in California, you will be charged with a misdemeanor offense. The penalties associated with this crime include:
- Up to six months in jail,
- A fine of up to $1,000, and/or
On the other hand, if the value of the items you are accused of shoplifting is less than $950, you can be charged with an infraction instead. In this case, the penalties are much less severe, including a fine of up to $250.
Penalties for Felony Shoplifting
If the value of the merchandise stolen is more than $950, your case could be filled as a wobbler, meaning you could either face misdemeanor or felony charges. The penalties for felony shoplifting in California are much more serious than for misdemeanor shoplifting. You could be sentenced for up to three years in state prison and fined up to $1,000.
Are there any Civil Consequences for Shoplifting?
The consequences of shoplifting are both criminal and civil. The criminal consequences can include being arrested, fined, and/or imprisoned. The civil consequences can include being sued by the store owner and/or having to pay damages to the store.
Can Prior Convictions Lead to Enhanced Penalties?
Yes. Prior convictions, even if they are misdemeanor shoplifting convictions, can result in enhanced penalties. Penalties for shoplifting are as follows: For first-time offenders, the penalty is a fine of no more than $250, up to six months in jail, or both. For second-time offenders, the penalty is a fine of no more than $500, up to a year in jail, or both. For third-time offenders, the penalty is a fine of no more than $1,000, up to a year in jail, or both. For fourth-time offenders and all subsequent offenders the penalty is a fine of no more than $1,000, up to a year in jail, or both.
For any person who has been convicted of shoplifting on two or more separate occasions, the court may order the person to participate in, and complete, an appropriate shoplifting diversion program.
Shoplifting is a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude
Under immigration law, a crime involving moral turpitude is a crime that is considered to be morally reprehensible. The concept of moral turpitude is not clearly defined, but it is generally used to describe crimes that are considered to be morally reprehensible. Theft crimes are typically considered to be crimes involving moral turpitude. This means that if you are convicted of shoplifting, you may be subject to removal from the United States. However, there are some exceptions.
If you are convicted of shoplifting and the value of the property taken is less than $500, you will not be considered to have committed a crime involving moral turpitude. Additionally, if you are convicted of shoplifting and the value of the property taken is less than $950, you may be eligible for what is known as a petty offense exception. This exception applies to non-citizens who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, but the offense is considered to be a petty offense.
A petty offense is defined as an offense that is punishable by a maximum sentence of one year or less. The sentence that you receive does not matter, only the maximum sentence that you could have received. If you are eligible for the petty offense exception, you will not be considered to have committed a crime involving moral turpitude. Additionally, if you are convicted of shoplifting and the value of the property taken is less than $950, you may also be eligible for what is known as the petty offense exception for first offenders. This exception applies to non-citizens who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, but the offense is considered to be a petty offense and the non-citizen has no prior convictions.
If you are eligible for the petty offense exception for first offenders, you will not be considered to have committed a crime involving moral turpitude. If you have been charged with shoplifting, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. An experienced attorney will be able to review the facts of your case and determine if you are eligible for any of the exceptions discussed above.
What Defenses can be Raised if I’m Accused of Shoplifting in Los Angeles, Ca?
There are several legal defenses that you and your attorney can use to fight your charges. These defenses include:
A civil compromise is a legal agreement between two parties in which they agree to settle their dispute without going to court. In some cases, a civil compromise can be used as a defense against a shoplifting charge. This is because the agreement between the parties can be used to prove that the shoplifting was not done with the intent to steal, but rather was a misunderstanding or accident. For example, shoplifting charges can be dismissed if the store agrees to not press charges as long as the accused makes restitution for the merchandise and agrees not to return to the store.
It is not a wonder that you may be falsely accused of shoplifting. If the store has no evidence that you stole anything, or if the evidence is weak, you may be able to get the charges dismissed or win at trial. If you have a good defense, you should speak to a lawyer to find out how to best proceed.
If you were misidentified as the person who committed shoplifting, you may be able to use mistaken identity as a defense against your charges. If you have an alibi or there is video footage of the shoplifting incident that does not show you as the perpetrator, your attorney may be able to use this evidence to prove that you are not the person who committed the crime.
Lack of Intent
If you are accused of shoplifting, one possible defense is that you lacked the intent to commit theft. To be guilty of shoplifting, the prosecutor must show that you had the intent to permanently deprive the store of the property. If you did not have this intent, and the prosecutor cannot prove this element, then you cannot be guilty of shoplifting.
Mistake of Fact
This defense applies if you reasonably believed that you had the right to take the property, even if you were mistaken. For example, if you mistakenly believed that you owned the item or that you had permission to take it, you might be able to use this defense.
If the police officer who arrested you used excessive force or violated your civil rights in any way, you may be able to use police misconduct as a defense against your shoplifting charges. For example, if they:
- Used excessive force when arresting a shoplifting suspect
- Wrongfully detained you
- Coerced a confession from you
- Failed to read you the Miranda rights
Note that this can be difficult to prove, so it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.
Illegal Search and Seizure
If the police officer who arrested you did not have probable cause to believe that you committed shoplifting, or if the officer searched you without a warrant or your consent, you may be able to use illegal search and seizure as a defense against your charges. If the evidence against you was obtained through an illegal search or seizure, your attorney may be able to have that evidence suppressed, which could result in your shoplifting charges being dismissed.
Another common defense is that the defendant was never in possession of the stolen items. For someone to be convicted of shoplifting, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant had control over the stolen items. If the defendant never had control over the stolen items, the prosecutor cannot prove that the defendant committed the crime.
Shoplifting Vs Petty Theft
As described above, shoplifting is a type of petty theft that occurs when someone unlawfully takes merchandise from a retail store without paying for it. The penalties for shoplifting in California can range from a misdemeanor charge to a felony charge, depending on the value of the stolen merchandise. Petty theft, on the other hand, is typically defined as the unlawful taking of property that is valued at $950 or less. Petty theft can also be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in California, depending on the value of the property stolen and the criminal history of the offender.
There are several offenses that are charged with or alongside shoplifting. These offenses include:
Possession of Stolen Property
If the police catch you with merchandise that was stolen from a store, you can be charged with possession of the stolen property. In California, it is a crime to possess any property that you know or should reasonably know is stolen. The crime is known as possession of stolen property (PC 496d). The offense is punishable by up to three years in county jail. The punishment will be less if the property is worth less than $950. The offense will be more serious if the stolen property is worth more than $950. Punishment may also be enhanced if the stolen item is a firearm. The crime of possession of stolen property is considered a wobbler. This means that the prosecutor can file it as a felony or a misdemeanor.
This is a type of theft that involves stealing property with a value of $950 or less. Petty theft is governed by California PC 484. According to Section 484 PC, petty theft occurs when a person unlawfully takes property that belongs to someone else with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. A petty theft case can be filed as an infraction or a misdemeanor, depending on the value of the stolen property and the circumstances of the crime. A misdemeanor petty theft charge penalties include detainment in county jail for 6 months and a $1,000 fine. An infraction petty theft charge penalties include fines of up to $250.
Penal Code 602 PC is the California statute that defines the crime of trespassing. A person commits this offense if he or she: enters any land or structure of another person without permission or a right to do so; and does not have an “unlawful purpose” when he or she enters the property. Note that the trespasser does not need to intend to commit a crime to violate Penal Code 602. Penal Code 602 trespassing is a misdemeanor in California law. This is opposed to an infraction or a felony crime. The offense is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to six months; and/or, a maximum fine of $1,000.
Trespassing can also occur if a person is caught shoplifting and they try to run away. If they go onto someone else's property without permission, they may be guilty of trespassing.
Grand theft is a more serious offense than petty theft and is typically charged when the value of the stolen property is over $950. Grand theft is governed by California Penal Code Section 487 PC. According to Section 487 PC, grand theft occurs when a person unlawfully takes property that belongs to someone else with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. Grand theft can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the value of the stolen property and the circumstances of the crime. A misdemeanor grand theft charge penalties include 1-year detainment in county jail and fines of up to $1,000. A felony grand theft charge penalties include 16 months, 2 or 3 years detainment in state prison, and a $10,000 fine.
If you enter a store with the intent to commit theft, you can be charged with burglary. Burglary is defined as the unlawful entry of a structure with the intent to commit a felony or theft once inside. For example, if someone breaks into a home with the intent to steal a TV, they can be charged with burglary.
The penalties for burglary in California can be harsh, but the severity of the penalty depends on the type of structure broken into, the amount of force used, and whether anyone was present at the time.
First-degree burglary, also called residential burglary, occurs when someone breaks into a residence. This means a house, apartment, condo, or dorm room. First-degree burglary is punishable by two, four, or six years in state prison.
Second-degree burglary, also called commercial burglary, occurs when someone breaks into a commercial structure. This means businesses, offices, warehouses, or factories. Second-degree burglary is punishable by 16 months, two, or three years in state prison.
Note that Shoplifting can be charged as burglary in some situations. For example, if a person breaks into a store after hours in order to commit theft, this could be considered burglary. Additionally, if a person uses force or threats of force to commit theft, this could also be considered burglary.
Can I Get Probation for Shoplifting in California?
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor shoplifting charge and you have no prior convictions, the judge may grant you informal probation for 3 years. As a condition of your probation, you may be required to perform community service, pay restitution, and/or attend counseling. You will also be required to stay away from the victim and the store where the offense occurred. If you violate the terms of your probation, you may be sentenced to jail.
Can I Get My Shoplifting Charge Expunged?
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor shoplifting charge, you may be eligible to have your record expunged. To be eligible, you must complete the terms of your probation and not be convicted of any other crimes during your probationary period. If you are convicted of a felony shoplifting charge, you will not be eligible to have your record expunged.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Even though shoplifting may seem like a petty offense, it is essential to seek help from an experienced defense attorney to help you fight your charges. If you are facing a shoplifting charge, we at Los Angeles Criminal Attorney can help you navigate the California criminal justice system and protect your rights. Call us today at 424-333-0943.