Traditionally the holidays are a time when retailers experience an escalation in retail theft. Whether it is a case of beer or a pearl necklace, the law sees it all the same. Shoplifting costs retailers, insurance companies, and consumers every single day. And if you are caught in California, you will be the one to pay the price. That is why finding an experienced local criminal defense attorney would be a good move right about now.
Retailers take the theft of their merchandise seriously and are doing whatever they can to put a dent in retail theft. In addition to providing employees with better training so they can spot shoplifters, many retailers are hiring undercover personnel who pretend to be shopping while keeping an eye out for would-be thieves. Technology is helping, too. As everyone knows, cameras are everywhere these days, tracking the movements of customers and of thieves. Pricier items may be under lock and key and often contain tags that set off alarms in the event of a theft.
If You Have Been Stopped for Shoplifting
Let’s say that you have been stopped by a store employee who thinks you have been trying to lift something without paying. What should you do? For starters, let’s talk about what you should not do:
- Never try to talk your way out of it.
- Do not attempt to explain, argue, or physically resist a store employee, security staffer, or police officer.
- Do not give your personal information to store employees.
- Never sign anything.
Instead, here is what you should do:
- If a bonafide police officer questions you, tell them your name.
- Ask to speak to your attorney straight away.
- Say nothing to managers, loss prevention individuals, or anyone else.
After an Arrest
The number one rule following an arrest is this: Keep your mouth shut. You should have been advised of your Miranda rights. Say nothing beyond expressing your desire to speak to your attorney.
California Penalties for Shoplifting
Shoplifting, which is defined as going into a business that is open intending to steal merchandise worth $950 or less, is taken seriously in California. Offenders could wind up in jail for as long as six months, on top of having to pay fines up to $1,000 and pay restitution to the store owner. And that is for simply attempting to steal something—whether or not you are successful. If the theft involves merchandise valued at more than $950, charges of grand theft can result, which could mean up to three years behind bars and $10,000 in fines. Naturally, repeat offenders could see the penalties increase. Continue reading