Los Angeles Shoplifting Lawyer

Shoplifting is stealing something from a store and the legal term for shoplifting is petty theft.  You shoplift if you intend to take something that does not belong to you from a store without paying for it, and you do so, or attempt to.  Shoplifting also includes switching labels on merchandise in order to get a better price for your purchases.

All Shoplifting charges come with consequences.  Shoplifting can be a serious crime, depending on the value of the property stolen and a person’s prior criminal record in regards to theft.  In most cases, first offenses such as shoplifting are charged as misdemeanors and are punishable by a small fine and up to three year of informal probation, even for a teen or juvenile offender.  In some cases a first shoplifting offense can be reduced to an infraction, thus eliminating any criminal record.

If you have been arrested or charged with shoplifting, you should contact Damian Siwek, an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, at DCS Defense to schedule a no-cost confidential consultation to discuss your legal options.

Petty Theft and Shoplifting Penalties

Generally referred to as shoplifting, petty theft is the unlawful taking of someone else’s property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently.  Petty theft is usually charged as a misdemeanor on the first offense, and the value of the property stolen is valued under $950. Petty theft is punishable by a fine, up to 6 months in County jail, and three years of informal probation.

Petty theft is charged as a felony if you have three or more prior theft convictions under Penal Code section §666.  This felony conviction is punishable by 16 months to three years in state prison.  The value of the property stolen is determined by the property’s reasonable and fair market value.

When shoplifting involves property stolen valued at over $950, the charge can become grand theft.  Grand Theft is prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony under Penal Code section §487 and is punishable by up to a year in county jail or 16 months to three years in state prison.

Most shoplifting charges are proven by evidence through the store video camera, loss prevention staff, security staff, or other witnesses.  The specific intent of the person who committed the crime does not need to be proven.  In most instances, you cannot use mental illness, medication, drug or alcohol-related problems as an excuse for shoplifting.  If the case of shoplifting is a factually weak one (for example, few witnesses), it is possible that these charges can be reduced to a trespass charge or dismissed altogether.

Shoplifting Attorney in Los Angeles

It is critical that you fight your criminal theft charges because the stakes are high.  California theft conviction are classified as crimes of moral turpitude, meaning that California licensing boards will reference a theft conviction as a reason to deny licenses and certifications (real estate license, nursing license, and contractor’s license). Theft convictions are seen by prospective employers as acts of dishonesty justifying denial of employment.  Theft convictions also come with immigration consequences for immigrants seeking a green card, visa, and US citizenship. Theft charges require the legal expertise and negotiating abilities of skilled legal counsel.  In the event there is a conviction, an experienced attorney is your best chance to take advantage of jail alternatives such as house arrest or electronic monitoring.

For aggressive and effective representation against shoplifting charges, including a free confidential consultation, contact Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Damian Siwek at DCS Defense.