Shoplifting is typically seen as a juvenile crime, where a teenager takes an item from the store without paying for it. However, the act of shoplifting has been reported as giving small-time criminals a “rush” and has been gaining popularity among celebrities in recent years. But whether you steal a candy bar or thousands of dollars worth of clothing, you could face serious criminal charges.
If you are accused of shoplifting, even if you are wrongly accused, consult with a criminal defense attorney to minimize the consequences.
Other Forms of Shoplifting
Aside from stealing merchandise, shoplifting can include switching price tags, writing bad checks, eating food while shopping and tossing the wrapper, and changing labels on items. You do not even have to exit the store to be charged with shoplifting. In most states, the law says that merely concealing goods in the store with the intent to steal them later can constitute stealing.
Shoplifting can fall into the category of petty theft or grand theft. What constitutes petty theft and grand theft will depend on your state’s statute. For example in California, petty theft occurs if the items’ value is $950 or below. Any monetary amount above that is deemed grand theft. Petty theft is typically a misdemeanor and grand theft can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the situation. First-time offenses are usually accompanied by a fine and probation, while second and third offenses can require jail time. Possession of stolen property is also a serious criminal charge that can accompany a shoplifting charge.
Penalties from shoplifting can range from fines and restitution to community service and even jail time, based on the seriousness of the ordeal. Even a seemingly-minor petty theft charge can remain on your record for years and present challenges when searching for jobs, applying for credit and obtaining professional licenses.
A shoplifting charge can be a humiliating experience. If you have been charged with a shoplifting or petty theft crime, talk to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, so he or she can investigate the allegations, review the evidence and begin developing a strategy to have the charges reduced or even dropped.
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