Articles Tagged with petty theft

We are in the full swing of the holiday season. It always seems as if there is a rise in petty theft and shoplifting crimes during this time of year. Sometimes people are arrested on a case of mistaken identity, while others intentionally and knowingly take from others. If you have been accused of shoplifting, reach out to a skilled San Diego criminal defense attorney today. 

What is Petty Theft and Shoplifting?

Petty theft and shoplifting is basically the act of taking something that does not belong to you, without paying for it or having the authority to take it.

Petty theft is known as larceny where someone takes possession of another’s items or goods without their permission and with the intent to deprive the person of the items or goods.

Petty theft and shoplifting was considered the same thing until November 2014 when shoplifting became a separate crime.

California Penal Code 459.5 goes into detail about shoplifting. Shoplifting is similar to petty theft, but with the following key differences:

  • Shoplifting refers to performing the act of stealing from a business or establishment during normal business hours, with the intention of stealing
  • Petty theft refers to stealing goods or even money, whether from a store or an individual, without permission

Businesses and establishments include movie theaters, hotels, stores, restaurants, gyms, libraries, medical facilities, and even schools.  

Why do People Shoplift and Commit Petty Theft?

Shoplifting happens for various reasons. Some reasons are financial, such as lack of money and the inability to afford gifts during the holiday season. Sometimes people lose their jobs during the holidays and they still need to make ends meet.

What are Some Examples of Shoplifting and Petty Theft?

Shoplifting and petty theft are similar; we would like to show you what shoplifting and petty theft looks like. If you are doing the following, you are participating in shoplifting and petty theft:

  • Carjacking
  • Changing price tags on items in stores
  • Pick pocketing
  • Taking someone’s purse

Common Defenses to Petty Theft and Shoplifting

Petty theft and shoplifting charges are serious in the State of California. But there are several defenses that may apply. The most common defenses include:

  • Consent
  •  Lack of intent
  • False accusation
  • Mistaken identity
  • Not enough evidence
  • Believing that the property belonged to the person being accused

The penalties for both petty theft and shoplifting may include no more than six months in jail and a fine of $1,000 maximum. With a qualified criminal defense lawyer, the accused may be able to get charges reduced or completely dismissed because of the negotiations that can take place. Continue reading

A shoplifting charge is a serious crime in California, whether it is your first offense or your fifth. Now that you and your friend are facing shoplifting charges, you probably think you will get off without any trouble since it is your first time. This is not true. And as a result, you attempt to handle the petty theft charge on your own. 

Without a criminal defense attorney providing representation for you, you place limits on your options – meaning the court is less likely to listen to your side of the story, and you may receive unfair treatment as you go through the criminal process.

If you and your friend are facing charges for a petty theft crime, you should immediately hire a criminal defense attorney who is experienced in shoplifting and petty theft.

What Exactly is Shoplifting? 

California law describes shoplifting as a theft by larceny. This happens when you take someone’s else’s property, without their permission, with the intention of permanently depriving them.

Below are some examples of shoplifting:

  • The San Diego shoplifting ring in which 22 people were stealing more than $20 million in merchandise from U.S. high-end malls to sell the items in Mexico.
  •  A KTLA news report showing California women stealing laundry detergent and toiletries at Dollar General, and being confronted by a store employee.

How can the Prosecutor Prove My Shoplifting Charge?

To prove shoplifting, under California law, the prosecutor must establish the following elements:

  • You took possession of property owned by someone else;
  • You entered a commercial establishment with intent to commit the crime;
  • The establishment is open during regular business hours; and
  • The value of the property stolen is more than $950

Penalties for Shoplifting

Shoplifting is a misdemeanor charge. According to California Penal Code Section 490.5, the misdemeanor results in the following penalties:

  • Three years of informal probation
  • Six months or less in a county jail
  • A fine up to $1000

First-Time Offender Programs

Since you and your friend are first-time offenders, you may qualify for the California petty theft diversion program, or your attorney may be able to get your charge reduced. 

The diversion program is a program that allows an offender to avoid punishment for the alleged crime, upon successful completion of the program. The program may take six months or longer to complete and may include:

  • Counseling
  • Community service
  • Behavior modification
  • Classes

The program is a great alternative for you and your friend to look into with your attorney. Eligibility depends on your age and prior criminal record.

New California Diversion Program Allows Victims to Confront Offenders

KUSI News reports that state officials are experimenting with a new diversion program that allows victims to confront offenders. The program will pair victims and offenders before they are convicted, and offenders who complete the program can avoid having a criminal record.

The state-funded program is targeting offenders who do not have extensive criminal histories, but who have committed serious crimes. This is important for you to know just in case you are a part of the new diversion program. Continue reading

Shoplifting, also known as boosting, is the concealment of a store item on a person, in pockets, under clothes, under handbags or other bags and leaving the store without paying for it. Shoplifting is a crime in California. Criminal penalties include a fine, jail time, and a criminal record. The merchant or retailer also starts civil proceedings against a shoplifter – oftentimes at greater intensity than the criminal case – and requires the shoplifter to pay for the item taken and the merchant or retailer’s attorneys fees and court costs.

What are Shoplifting Charges?

Shoplifting charges depend on the value of the item taken. California Penal Code Section 484 refers to shoplifting as theft – carrying away, or otherwise appropriating someone else’s property, with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of that property. The two possible charges are petty theft and theft.

What are Criminal Shoplifting Penalties?

Petty theft charges are reserved for items taken under $950 in value. If the item itself is valued at less than $50, expect an infraction with a fine of up to $250 to resolve the criminal case. An infraction is not a crime and charged at the discretion of the prosecutor. If the prosecutor wishes, shoplifting items worth less than $950 subjects a person to misdemeanor petty theft charges. Misdemeanor petty theft carries with it mandatory fines between $50 and $1000, and up to six months in jail. The most serious shoplifting crime is called grand theft and is reserved for items valued at over $950 and is applied to theft of a firearm. If the item taken was a firearm, jail time between 16 months and two years can be assessed or up to a year of incarceration for all other items and mandatory fines.

What are Civil Shoplifting Penalties?

Merchants and retailers sue the shoplifter immediately after pressing criminal charges. Merchants can receive between $50 and $500 plus the value of the merchandise if it is not recovered in sellable condition as damages. Many merchants and retailers ban the shoplifter from their store or retail establishment for life.

Charged Under California Petty Theft or Grand Theft Laws? Hire a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney

California offers pretrial diversion programs for first-time offenders as an alternative to prosecution. Eligibility depends on age and prior criminal record. Criminal charges under the pretrial diversion program are dismissed if the person successfully completes court-mandated programs and conditions within a specified time frame. If you or a loved one is facing felony or misdemeanor petty theft or grand theft, seek legal advice and legal representation from an experienced San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney. Continue reading