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Articles Tagged with shoplifting

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

Two suspects that were arrested in connection with suspected shoplifting at a south Springfield Walmart were released from the Greene County Jail because they could not be extradited. The same three suspects that were involved in the alleged shoplifting attempt were already wanted in a prior shooting and alleged shoplifting incident at another Walmart in Los Banos, California in November. The shooting allegedly occurred when the suspects were being confronted about suspected shoplifting activity.

According to the deputy district attorney for Merced County, Ray Littlefield, 21, Peyton Garnica, 20, and Carl Littlefield, 20, were wanted on a “Ramney Warrant.” Carl Littlefield, who police say fired the shot, still remains at large. A Ramney Warrant is an arrest warrant that is obtained by a police department gaining approval by a judge, while bypassing the district attorney.

Earlier this week, a detective with the Los Banos Police Department traveled to Springfield to interview the two suspects in the Greene County Jail. The police department says that extradition, the process of moving the suspects from one area to another under a Ramey warrant, is not allowed. In Greene County, the prosecutor is still deciding on whether to file charges on the two suspects in the south Springfield Walmart shoplifting incident.

California Petty Theft and Shoplifting Law

Theft is generally defined as the unlawful taking of someone else’s property. In California, the crime of theft is considered ‘petty theft’ when the value of the property taken is under $950. See CA Penal Code § 484. This crime is also known as larceny or theft by larceny.

Shoplifting, however, is a different offense under the Penal Code. Shoplifting is defined as when one entires a commercial establishment with the intent to steal items worth under $950. See CA Penal Code§ 459. You may be charged with shoplifting even if you do not succeed in procuring the items. All that matters is that you intended to steal them.

Both petty theft and shoplifting are misdemeanors punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and six months in county jail.

Theft of property that is worth more than $950 is called “grand theft.” See CA Penal Code 487.  That is a wobbler crime, meaning it may be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances. Grand theft charged as a felony can result in up to three years imprisonment.
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