Shoplifting penalties depend on the facts and circumstances of the individual case and defendant. Shoplifting is generally charged as a petty theft, or theft of $950 or less from a commercial outlet like a department store or other retail outlet. California Penal Code section 484/490 and 490.1 are generally the codes involved. A petty theft is a misdemeanor carries up to $1000 fine and up to 6 months in jail. If the theft is under $50 the District Attorney may reduce the charge to an infraction which carries a fine only. Nearly always the D.A. files the misdemeanor, however, the infraction shoplifting charge may be able to be negotiated during plea bargaining. It is also possible to negotiate other misdemeanors or infractions in some cases, thereby avoiding a theft or crime of moral turpitude which can effect occupational licensing, employment and many other things in your future.
Clearly an individuals background is an important consideration in plea bargaining. Military service, career, physical or pyschological issues, medications, age, prior record, impact of the conviction on the individual are all importan factors. The facts of the case are also extremely important considerations in plea negotiations. Important questions involve were minors involved, was it sophisticated, was it a return scam, what was the value of the items taken, how sophisticated was the theft, were there lookouts, were tools used or special bags or clothing involved, how many items were taken. Experienced criminal defense attorneys who regularly deal with these cases and the local Courts and prosecutors know what needs to be done to get the best results and try to avoid a misdemeanor theft conviction or at least minimize the consequences.
Shoplifting penalties if convicted of the misdemeanor petty theft with no prior record and the facts are not aggravated, there is usually 3 years of informal probation on condition you stay out of that store, violate no laws other than minor traffic, restitution for any loss, a 4th amendment search waiver during probation, fines start around $750, there is a book and release in Jail so it counts as a prior to enhance future thefts, and there can be additional public work or custody depending on the case.
Even if convicted of a misdemeanor or infraction you can get the charges dismissed per California Penal Code 1203.4, commonly referred to as the expungement section, after successful probation. Attorneys Nicholas and William Christoph have been practicing exclusively Criminal and DUI at the Vista Courts on a daily basis for over 30 years and have handled well over a thousand theft cases. Call Christoph Law Offices for a free consultation at 760-941-5720.