Caught Shoplifting? Here's What You Need to Know

Have you been caught shoplifting? It's time to speak with a criminal defense attorney. Here's why.

Shoplifting can have serious long term consequences. It is a theft charge and is usually a misdemeanor as long as the value of the property stolen is $950 or less, then it is a petty theft. If the value exceeds $950, it is then a felony grand theft. There is also an infraction shoplifting sometimes charged, rather than a misdemeanor, if the agreed value of the stolen items was less than $50.

Theft offenses, even shoplifting as a misdemeanor, can affect employment, vocational licenses, immigration, security clearances and denial of future opportunities. Many adults across the country have shoplifted at some point. In fact, approximately 1 in 10 adults has admitted to shoplifting. Shoplifting even small items is illegal, which means that being caught shoplifting can lead to criminal charges. If you or someone you know has been caught stealing items, it's important to remember that your life is not over. There are options in resolving the case to lessen or avoid those consequences and ultimately cleaning up a criminal record with an expungement.

Consequences of Shoplifting in California

Most shoplifting cases are petty thefts because they involve $950 in value or less. Usually the loss prevention or store security contacts and detains the individual, interviews them and holds them until local police arrive and complete the investigation. Shoplifting as a misdemeanor carries up to 6 months in jail and $1000 fine. Shoplifting offenses, many times, can be resolved with lesser penalties, charges or other alternative dispositions. Considerations in negotiating include the value of the items stolen, the sophistication of the taking, defendants prior record. Additional considerations which may help in a better resolution of a case may include background information of the defendant like occupation, military service, medical conditions, effect on employment, licensing, immigration and other positive individual factors.

What Happens Next

As long as it is a misdemeanor, then the individual will normally not be arrested but given a citation for a future Court date and released. The reports are forward to the District Attorney's office to formally issue the charges for the initial appearance or arraignment. An attorney can appear for a defendant in California on a misdemeanor so the defendant does not have to go to Court. The lawyer would normally enter a "not guilty" at the first appearance, request all reports, video etc. and set the case for a settlement conference several weeks away so the evidence can be reviewed with the defendant and additional case and client information can be gathered. Most cases are resolved at settlement conferences without a jury trial.

How an Attorney Can Help

An experienced criminal defense attorney, familiar with the local courts, prosecutors and the Judges as well as the law, defenses and mitigating factors, knows how to get the best resolution in the case. An experienced criminal defense attorney knows what information, factors and background needs to be presented during negotiations to get the best resolution. The attorney can also explore and try to qualify an individual for diversion if available in that jurisdiction. That is why it is important to talk with an attorney if you are facing shoplifting or any criminal charge. Call today for your consultation.