Petty theft is the theft of goods, services, merchandise or personal property valued at $950 or less and shoplifting generally refers to merchandise taken from a merchant's premises. Shoplifting can also be grand theft if the value exceeds $950 in merchandise.
Shoplifting is also "petty theft" if the amount or value stolen does not exceed $950. Thefts over that amount then become "Grand Theft". These thefts can take the form of simply taking merchandise, exchanging merchandise that was stolen, credit card fraud, embezzlement (theft by employee), or other type theft. The most common "shoplift" is the taking an item and walking out of the store with it, usually concealing it in a bag or clothing. Often times people use changing rooms to steal items by wearing them out of the stoire without paying for them, or bagging them after removing elctronic tags.
"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.
Shoplifting and petty theft can be the same. If the value of the stolen items is $950 or less and the items were taken were retail merchandise, then it may be treated the same. If the value is greater, than $950 it becomes a grand theft. If the value is less than $50, the prosecutor could even charge an infraction petty theft instead of a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor petty theft or shoplifting are punishable by up to 6 months jail and $1000 fine. Depending on the facts of the case, prior record and other factors, it may be possible to get a lesser charge or avoid custody. Infractions are minor offenses and punishable by a fine only.
It is not shoplifting or petty theft if you forgot to pay for an item at the store and walked out with it. It could become a theft at the point you realize you took the item without paying for it and decide not to return the item or pay for it. Theft requires a specific intent where you knowingly take an item intending to permanently deprive the owner when you took it or decided to keep it. Everyone can make a mistake, or forget something is in there cart, especially as you get older. Intent is not something you can see and say that person had that specific intent, however, it is the circumstances surrounding the taking which may indicate that intent.
Shoplifting in Carlsbad, Oceanside, San Marcos, Escondido, Encinitas or anywhere in California can be a felony. It depends on several things, prior record, dollar value stolen, and whether there are any additional crimes committed at the time. Any prior felony theft charge can make a petty theft a felony. Also, if there are three prior petty thefts then the fourth can be a felony. If the value of the property shoplifted is $950 or more it is a felony grand theft shoplifting. If a person entered the store with the intent to steal, pass bad checks, or fraudently use a credit card, then there will be felony charges in addition to the petty theft.
Shoplifting, also known as petty theft from a retail outlet, is a crime of moral turpitude and can have serious and long lasting effects on someone's future. A theft crime can potentially cause the loss of occupational licenses like nursing, contractors, teaching, real estate sales etc. While the first offense may be a misdemeanor, if convicted it usually requires a booking and release from jail, probation, fines, potential additional custody or public work and even a theft class.
It is shoplifting season, especially in all the areas where there are large malls like Carlsbad, Oceanside and Escondido California. Simply because the Christmas holiday season is the biggest shopping period of the year, everyone needs to get merchandise, either for themselves or others. Sometimes it is just too tempting to take something mall, hide it in a jacket or purse and walk out. Unfortunately, people just do not think of the ultimate cost to their lives, career, family and self esteem based on that one impulsive taking. Theft is a crime of moral turpitude and can be used against you in a number of ways, like credibility and honesty.
Most shoplifting charges in North County at the Vista Courts come from petty thefts from the two largest malls, Carlsbad Westfield Mall and Escondido North County Fair. Shoplifting is the stealing of property $950 or less from a commercial outlet. There are other stores like Walmart, Costco and Target which also have a lot of cases. Usually store security does the initial stop after exiting the store and escorts the suspected individual to the office, takes a statement, tells them not to return and local police for the arrest/citation.
When someone is caught shoplifting from a store, they can also be charged a civil damages fee by the store between $ 50 and $ 500 plus costs and restitution for any damaged stolen property per California Penal Code 490.5(c). This fee is in addition to any criminal case and criminal penalties. Sometimes people think because they pay the store $ 325 per the demand letter from the retail outlet's attorney, they will not be prosecuted, but this is not true. You are still prosecuted for the theft and additional fines, possible jail, probation, and stay away orders could be part of the sentencing.