Shoplifting means taking items or merchandise illegally from a store. Shoplifting in California falls under theft laws. If you have been charged with petty theft, grand theft or shoplifting, please understand that these are serious crimes with serious consequences. It is very likely that you will face possible jail time, probation and hefty fines. A shoplifting conviction will also go on your criminal record, making it difficult for you to get a job or a professional license, thereby affecting your career and your future. If you are facing shoplifting charges, you need the help and guidance of experienced criminal defense lawyers who will represent you and fight for your rights every step of the way.
Shoplifting or Theft Law
According to California Penal Code Section 488 (a): "Every person who shall feloniously steal, take, carry, lead, or drive away the personal property of another, or who shall fraudulently appropriate property which has been entrusted to him or her, or who shall knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defraud any other person of money, labor or real or personal property, or who causes or procures others to report falsely of his or her wealth or mercantile character and by thus imposing upon any person, obtains credit and thereby fraudulently gets or obtains possession of money, or property or obtains the labor or service of another, is guilty of theft."
Shoplifting may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the incident, the individual's prior criminal record and the value of the merchandise that was taken. If the value of the merchandise is under $950, the defendant will likely face a petty theft charge, which is a misdemeanor. If it is more than $950, the defendant may face a felony grand theft charge.
Defending Shoplifting Charges
It is important to understand that you do not automatically have to plead guilty to shoplifting. There are many possible defenses to shoplifting charges. To obtain a conviction in a shoplifting case, the prosecutor must prove that you took the item and that you took it with the intent of stealing it and not returning it back to the store. However, if you did not intend to steal an item, you cannot be convicted of shoplifting. For example, if you absent-mindedly picked up an item and forgot to pay, you cannot be convicted of shoplifting. Also if you had the permission of someone to take the items or if the item rightfully belonged to you (claim of right), you cannot be convicted.
If you or a loved one has been charged with shoplifting, experienced criminal defense lawyer, Daniel E. Kann, is here to help. Our criminal defense team will analyze all evidence in a shoplifting case including any surveillance video or eyewitness testimony and fight hard to ensure that your charges are dismissed or reduced. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation before you discuss your case with the authorities.