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Is Shoplifting a Serious Crime in California?

 Posted on March 24, 2023 in Criminal Defense

santa clara county criminal defense lawyerMany people are under the impression that shoplifting is a minor crime that young teens engage in as a dare from friends. Still, the legal reality is that in California, shoplifting is looked at as a serious crime. In fact, a conviction can result in jail time for the accused, depending on the circumstances of the allegations and if they have a prior criminal history. The following is a brief overview of the crime. For more detailed information if you have been arrested, contact Fuller Law Firm for legal assistance.

Shoplifting Statistics

Data provided by the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) reveal just how prevalent shoplifting actually is:

  • There are approximately 27 million people in the United States who shoplift. This comes out to 1 out of every 11 people. Approximately 75 percent of these shoplifters are adults.

  • There are 550,000 shoplifting incidents that occur every day. These incidents add up to a $45 million a day loss to retailers.

  • Each shoplifting defendant equals approximately $2,000 in costs to American taxpayers.

Shoplifting in California

A person arrested in California for shoplifting can be charged with either petty theft or grand theft. A petty theft charge is for anyone accused of stealing $950 or less of merchandise. It is a misdemeanor charge. If a person is convicted of petty theft, they can be sentenced to up to six months in jail and/or fined anywhere from $50 to $1,000.

If the value of the merchandise is more than $950, the person can be charged with grand theft, which is a more serious charge that carries harsher penalties than petty theft. Grand theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony and conviction could mean up to one year in prison. If the item that was allegedly shoplifted was a firearm, a conviction could result in a three-year prison sentence.

In addition to criminal penalties, a conviction also means the person accused faces civil penalties. If they are found liable, the court can require them to pay the retail value of any merchandise that was not recovered or recovered in unsellable condition, as well as $50 to $500 in civil damages.

Expunging Shoplifting Convictions

If a person has been convicted of shoplifting, especially a young person, having that conviction on their record can cause issues with obtaining employment and other areas of their life. If the conviction was for misdemeanor shoplifting, they may be able to have the conviction expunged from their record if the following applies:

  • It has been more than one year since the individual was convicted.

  • All requirements of the sentence have been complied with (i.e., fines paid, damages paid).

  • The individual is not serving another sentence.

  • The individual has not been charged with another crime.

Call a San Jose Defense Attorney for Legal Help

If you have been charged with shoplifting, or you have a conviction on your record that you want to be expunged, call Fuller Law Firm at 408-234-7563 to schedule a free consultation with dedicated Santa Clara County criminal defense lawyer Attorney Cory Fuller.






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