Los Angeles Shoplifting Attorney
Shoplifting is typically involves with a petit theft incident involving a retail store or other establishment. In California, petit theft, also known as “petty theft,” is a crime that meets the following conditions. The stolen property must be valued at $950 or less. Thefts in excess of that value are “grand” thefts rather than petty thefts. The property stolen cannot be a firearm or a motor vehicle. Thefts of those items are prosecuted as grand theft, without regard to the value of the weapon or vehicle. Additionally, a petty theft is not a direct physical seizure of property from its owner; this is the distinction between theft and robbery. The overwhelming majority of petty theft crime cases in Southern California are shoplifting cases.
California law defines shoplifting as a crime that occurs when someone:
- Enters a commercial establishment;
- The commercial establishment is operating during normal business hours; and
- Has the intent to steal property from the commercial establishment.
If you’ve been arrested for shoplifting, call the Miranda Rights Law Firm immediately. Los Angeles shoplifting attorney Douglas Miranda has over a decade of experience representing clients against shoplifting charges and other criminal accusations.
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Petty theft is a misdemeanor in California, but that doesn’t mean it’s not treated seriously by law enforcement officers, the courts and prosecutors. In California, shoplifting is classified as a general theft offense, which is classified according to the value of the goods or services that were taken. If the shoplifted goods are valued at under $400, the charge will likely be petty theft. Goods valued at less than $50, are charged as just a simple infraction, which is less serious than a misdemeanor, and carry the penalty of minor fines. Both are considered misdemeanors. Misdemeanor petty theft carries a potential penalty of 6 months in jail and fines ranging from $50 to $1,000.
However, when the shoplifting charge is valued at more than $400, it is a grand theft charge, which can be a misdemeanor or a felony, decided by the prosecutor, who examines your past criminal history to make a decision. Grand theft carries a potential sentence of up to one year in jail or prison and fines.
If you have certain convictions on your record, such as homicide or violent sex crimes, then you may be charged with felony shoplifting.
In addition to these legal penalties, you may face civil penalties as well. Those who are convicted of shoplifting may be held liable to pay the store owner back for the value of the merchandise. You may have to pay:
- Damages of at least $50 but not more than $500; and
- The retail value of the merchandise if it is no longer in a salable condition.
Parents of minors who are convicted of shoplifting may be held liable to pay these damages to the owner on behalf of their child. If the child is emancipated from his or her parents, the parents will not be liable for these expenses, but the child will be.
The benefits of a skilled Los Angeles County shoplifting attorney include negotiating with the prosecutor for your best outcome and working towards the very best course of action for your situation. Unless the evidence against you is overwhelming, shoplifting can be hard to prove. Almost everyone gets confused or distracted sometime. You may simply have forgotten to pay for an item, or you may not have realized that you didn’t put an item back. You may have believed the item was yours; in some cases, people have been accused of shoplifting what was actually already their own property.
If there’s no other evidence and you have no prior criminal record – while no promises can ever be made about any specific case – there’s a good chance you may be acquitted or the charge will be dismissed. In cases where the evidence is against you is strong – for example, video and cell phone evidence indicates that you coordinated a shoplifting crime with an associate – Los Angeles shoplifting lawyer Douglas Miranda will negotiate for an acceptable plea bargain and reduced or alternative sentencing. This is one of the benefits of working with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
One element of the shoplifting crime is intent. The law states that you must have intent to steal when you enter the commercial establishment, meaning if you decide to steal while you are already inside, this could work against the prosecution’s case. Proving this intent is difficult since the prosecutor cannot get inside the shoplifter’s head.
Many people are wrongly accused of shoplifting. It is common for a shop owner to believe that a customer is shoplifting, but in reality, they are mistaken. Perhaps you look similar to someone who is known to shoplift from the store, or they thought they saw you take something and shove it into your bag. Either way, your attorney may be able to argue the charges against you.
Sometimes, police misconduct can be used as a shoplifting defense. If the police obtained evidence against you by conducting an illegal search, this evidence should not be used in court to convict you. Police have to follow a very specific protocol when it comes to conducting searches, and any deviation from the protocol has legal ramifications. The police may have also planted evidence in order to arrest you, which may be motivated by racial factors. Perhaps law enforcement officers coerced you into a confession that you never meant. In any of these cases, your shoplifting attorney may be able to use the police misconduct defense to reduce or dismiss your charges.
Not every shoplifting charge leads to a conviction. If you have been charged with shoplifting, contact experienced California defense attorney Douglas Miranda to begin defending your rights. Speak with knowledgeable Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer like Douglas Miranda and set up a free consultation. You will be glad you did.
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If you’ve been charged with shoplifting, put an experienced Los Angeles shoplifting defense attorney to work for you. Douglas Miranda will explain your legal options and work to develop the most effective possible defense to your theft crime case. Our law firm represents clients accused of many different offenses, like shoplifting, petty theft, robbery, burglary, auto theft, grand theft and white collar theft crimes like identity theft or credit card fraud.
At the Miranda Rights Law Firm, we put our experience to work for you. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced LA criminal defense attorney, contact us today. Send an email, or call 213-293-1207. Se habla español.