Riverside Shoplifting Defense Lawyer
Arrested for retail theft? Call our firm to fight your charges!
Shoplifting is a prevalent crime- more than $13 billion worth of merchandise
is stolen from retailers each year, or more than $35 million per day.
More than 10 million people have been caught for shoplifting in the last
five years and there are approximately 27 million shoplifters in the United
Shoplifting crimes are considered "Crimes of Moral Turpitude"-
or crimes involving dishonesty. Because of this reason, shoplifting charges
can be quite serious, as many employers will disqualify a person with
a recent theft conviction- theft convictions appear on background reports
for ten years or more. Also, if you are not a US citizen, a shoplifting
conviction can lead to a denial of permanent residency, deportation or
denial of entry into the United States. People get away with shoplifting
by larceny, trickery, embezzlement, or false pretenses.
- Larceny involves carrying off another person's property without their consent
- Trickery involves tactics such as tag switching
- Embezzlement involves depriving someone of something after it was entrusted
to you (normally involves an employer-employee relationship)
- False pretense involves making false representations to obtain money, property
or labor, convincing someone that something belongs to you when it does not
Department stores, supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores- all can
be targeted by shoplifters. Shoplifting can include a lot of things- such
as switching a higher priced tag with a less expensive one. Employees
are some of the most common culprits- the Wall Street Journal reports
that 75% of employees have stolen at least one time.
Petty Theft Crimes
In California, penalties for shoplifting depend upon whether "petty
theft" or "grand theft" took place. Penal Code Sections
484 and 488 discuss petty and grand theft. For an offense that involved
less than $950, a defendant may be forced to pay a $1,000 fine and spend
six months in jail.
Grand Theft Crimes
When more than $950 worth of goods is stolen, an individual can face a
sentence of one year in prison. Grand theft constitutes a felony offense.
Grand theft often includes auto burglary, embezzlement or identity theft.
Other factors that can determine whether your crime is charged to you
as a misdemeanor or a felony include criminal record and the circumstances
of your case (if there were any "aggravating factors" involved).
Aggravating factors can include:
- Use of a weapon
- Resisting arrest
- Conspiracy (shoplifting involving a ring of people)
Civil Demand Letters
After you have been accused of shoplifting, a store might mail you a "civil
demand letter" and threaten to sue you, if you do not pay them back
for this loss. Before you do so- you should know your rights. If a store
recovers the item you tried to take, you are not responsible to pay for
any loss. Only if you damaged an item and that item could not subsequently
be resold, can you be held liable.
Defenses for Shoplifting
Defenses against shoplifting charges can include: you forgot to put back
merchandise or pay for the merchandise, the "stolen items" actually
belong to you, you had consent to take the items, you were framed, you
were unaware you had unpaid-for merchandise on you.
Typically if this was your first offense, you could receive diminished
penalties such as having to repay the value of the merchandise, carry
out community service or attend anti-theft classes. If you can pursue
a plea agreement, your charges could get reduced to a Penal Code 415 violation-
trespassing or disturbing the peace. In California, trespassing is a misdemeanor
and disturbing the peace is an infraction.
No matter what kind of a shoplifting charge you face, this crime can be
serious. As previously mentioned, a shoplifting conviction can affect
your future employment or residency in the United States. Because of the
serious nature of shoplifting, you should
contact Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich today!