Shoplifting is an example of a theft crime in the state of California. Individuals who try to take products they did not buy from a business could face shoplifting charges. The state treats shoplifting as a misdemeanor under Penal Code 459.5.
The recently enforced Proposition 47 has reduced the severity of certain shoplifting charges. However, a shoplifting conviction could still lead to fines and jail time. The Simmrin Law Group can help you fight the charges against you and possibly reduce or eliminate any penalties you face.
Understanding Shoplifting in California
California prosecutes theft crimes at different levels. Shoplifting is one example of a theft crime. Individuals face shoplifting charges if they enter a commercial establishment during normal business hours with the intent to steal items worth less than $950.
California defines “commercial establishments” as businesses that provide goods or services in exchange for money.
Individuals do not have to take merchandise out of a store to face shoplifting charges. Individuals who get caught stealing while still in the store can still face shoplifting charges.
Comparing Shoplifting to Other Types of Theft
Shoplifting is an example of a theft charge. However, there are additional crimes that are considered forms of theft in the state of California. Many of these crimes are closely related to shoplifting.
Penal Codes 484(a) and 488: Petty Theft
Petty theft involves the stealing of items worth less than $950. However, there can be escalations to petty theft charges. For example, individuals face more serious charges if they steal firearms or horses, even if they’re worth less than $950.
Petty theft charges apply regardless of where the theft occurred. Individuals can be charged with petty theft if they steal something from the parking lot of a store, for example.
Penal Code 487: Grand Theft
Grand theft charges are more serious than petty theft or shoplifting. These charges apply if someone steals something worth more than $950, a motor vehicle, or a horse.
Additionally, grand theft charges apply when people steal over $250 worth of certain products, such as agricultural or aquacultural products. Find out more about how to fight these charges with the Simmrin Law Group by calling (310) 997-4688.
Penal Code 459: Burglary
Burglary involves entering a building with the intent to commit theft or a felony while the business is closed. Burglary charges are treated more seriously by the courts in California.
Convictions for Shoplifting in California
In the past, prosecutors could escalate shoplifting to a felony charge, but Proposition 47 recently changed that. Now, PC 459.5 can only be prosecuted as a misdemeanor in California. A conviction results in:
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Jail time of up to six months
However, not all shoplifting cases in California go to court. The business where the theft occurred can agree to work with the accused shoplifter on a settlement. In some cases, the shoplifter may agree to provide restitution to the business. This can resolve a shoplifting charge without a trial.
Shoplifting charges can be expunged in the state of California. Expungement involves the removal of a criminal charge from an individual’s record and occurs after conviction.
Legal Defenses Against California Shoplifting Charges
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help you defend yourself against shoplifting charges. A lawyer can help you prove that:
You Intended to Pay for the Items You Took
A shopkeeper may incorrectly accuse a person of shoplifting in California after finding items in a person’s possession that the person didn’t pay for. However, if you intended to purchase the items before you left the store, you may be able to avoid a shoplifting conviction. The Simmrin Law Group can help you prove this.
You Were Mistaken for Someone Else
The shopkeeper may accidentally confuse you for someone else and believe you intended to shoplift. Contact a theft crimes lawyer in Los Angeles if you were mistakenly accused of shoplifting. We can help you fight back.
Fight Penal Code 459.5 Charges with the Simmrin Law Group Now
The Simmrin Law Group can help you if you were accused of a Penal Code 459.5 violation in California. Work with us to build your defense against a shoplifting accusation. Contact us now for a free consultation at (310) 997-4688. You can also complete our online contact form.