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Nicholas W.

William R.

Criminal Defense Experience - 40+ Years

Is “shoplifting” and “petty theft” the same?

Shoplifting” merchandise valued at $950 or less from a commercial outlet carries the same penalties and can also be charged as a “petty theft”.  But a shoplifting over $950 in value is grand theft which is a felony and therefore not the same. There may be other charges in a theft case like “burglary” which is the entry into a building with the intent to commit theft or other felony.  Commercial burgalries may also be misdemeanors if the value of items take is $950 or less.  Burglary of a residence is a felony and a strike under the 3 strikes law.  

Petty thefts may also be from private persons or non-commercial property other than a residence so all petty thefts are not shoplifts.  A theft by definition requires the specific intent to take the property stolen with the intent to permanently deprive the owner.  Without this specic intent, there is no theft.  For instance the overlooking an item and walking out with it is not theft, unless you intended to steal it.  The prosecution tries to show “specific intent” by the circumstances of the taking or statement of the defendant.  Things like concealing merchandise in a pocket, or under clothing can show intent.  Removing packaging from merchandise, concealing, and walking out without stopping at a cashier also can show “specific intent”

Shoplifting or petty theft can impact employment, occupational licensing, security clearances, immigration and many other aspects of a person’s life.  Even if you did commit a shoplift or petty theft, many times plea bargaining can result in lesser charges and penalties based on you as an individual, your background, employment, education, medications or mental health issues.  Contact the Criminal Defense Lawyers Nicholas and William Christoph for a free initial consultation at 760-941-5720.  You will not have to appear in Court if we handle your misdemeanor and we can help you get the best resolution possible in your case.

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