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Shoplifting Charges in California 

The Law Office of John Goalwin Dec. 29, 2022

Thief’s hands putting the new gadget in the bagIn California, it is an offense to enter into a commercial establishment with the intent to steal merchandise on sale. A person convicted of shoplifting may face devastating penalties, including massive fines, lengthy imprisonment, a criminal record, and other life-changing consequences. A highly skilled California criminal defense attorney can inform you about the penalties and ramifications of a shoplifting charge and help build your best defense. 

With more than 45 years of extensive experience, our team at The Law Office of John Goalwin has the resources and skills to represent and defend individuals who are facing shoplifting charges. Our dependable attorneys will inspect every detail of your case, strategize an effective defense to fight your allegations, and help keep your record as clean as possible. We’re proud to serve alleged defendants across Los Angeles, Van Nuys, Compton, Torrance, and Norwalk, California. 

Shoplifting Charges Under California Law  

Shoplifting is a crime that involves stealing an item from a retail store or commercial establishment – while pretending to be a shopper – without paying for the merchandise.  

Under California Law – California Penal Code 459.5 PC – a person commits a shoplifting offense when they enter a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny, where the value of the stolen property is $950 or less. 

Examples of Shoplifting 

Here are some common examples of shoplifting incidents in California: 

  • Pocketing a pack of candy from a retail store. 

  • Changing the price tag on a product. 

  • Stealing jewelry worth $500 from a store. 

  • Removing security tags on a product or other theft-prevention measures. 

  • Stealing merchandise from a convenience store for personal use. 

  • Taking a product out of the retail store without paying by hiding it in your backpack. 

If you or someone you know has recently been arrested or indicted for shoplifting, you need to get in touch with a strategic criminal defense lawyer right away. Your attorney can evaluate the severity of your charges and offer you the effective representation you need in your case. 

Classification of Charges in California  

Furthermore, shoplifting could be classified as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the stolen item or type of product. 

Misdemeanor Shoplifting – A shoplifting offense will be charged as a misdemeanor if the value of the item stolen from the commercial establishment is $950 or less. 

Felony Shoplifting – Conversely, a shoplifting offense will be charged as a felony if the value of the item stolen from the commercial establishment is more than $950. This may also be regarded as grand theft. 

An experienced shoplifting defense attorney can enlighten you about the nature of your charges and the possible penalties you'll face if convicted. 

Possible Penalties 

In California, the offense of shoplifting usually attracts far-reaching punishments. Here are some possible penalties and consequences of a shoplifting conviction: 

  • Jail time (ranging from months or years) 

  • Massive fines and court fees 

  • Restitution to the store or commercial establishment. 

  • A criminal record/history 

  • Probation 

  • Community service 

  • Mandatory anti-theft class 

Other consequences of a shoplifting conviction include: 

  • Loss of right to own or carry a gun or firearm 

  • Loss of right to vote during elections 

  • Increased difficulty in getting public benefits or government assistance. 

  • Ineligibility to obtain certain financial loans. 

  • Increased difficulty in getting housing, future employment, scholarships, and educational opportunities. 

  • Increased difficulty in traveling abroad. 

  • Deterioration of professional and personal relationships. 

A dependable California theft defense attorney can determine the best strategy to fight your shoplifting charges and help avoid the severe penalties and consequences of a conviction. 

Common Shoplifting Defenses 

If you’re facing shoplifting allegations, your lawyer can help fight those false charges using any of the following legal defenses: 

  • Falsely accused of shoplifting 

  • No intention to steal the property 

  • Mistake of fact 

  • Entrapment 

  • Intoxication 

  • Civil compromise 

  • You acted with the consent of the business owner 

  • Informal diversion 

  • Borrowed the item from the commercial establishment and intends to return it. 

A seasoned lawyer can investigate every aspect of your case and strategize a solid defense to help fight your charges in pursuit of the most favorable outcome for your unique situation. 

Trusted Legal Representation  

Facing shoplifting charges can be terrifying, and a criminal conviction could jeopardize your liberty, personal reputation, quality of life, and future opportunities. Therefore, if you have been charged with shoplifting, you need to retain a wise and aggressive criminal defense attorney for clear guidance and to help build your defense. 

At The Law Office of John Goalwin, we are committed to handling criminal cases and protecting individuals wrongfully charged with shoplifting from suffering devastating penalties. As your legal counsel, we can analyze all of the facts of your case and refute the accusations against you with factual evidence. Our dependable legal team will fight vigorously to uphold your rights and make sure those allegations don’t ruin your life. 

Don’t face your shoplifting charges alone. Contact The Law Office of John Goalwin today to arrange a case evaluation with knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers. We can help direct you through the California criminal justice system and represent you aggressively in every phase of the legal process. Our firm proudly serves clients across Los Angeles, Van Nuys, Compton, Torrance, and Norwalk, California.