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Shoplifting in California

People who are charged with shoplifting in California may face various penalties if convicted. The penalty received depends on the level of offense charged, the number of prior offenses and the value of the item allegedly taken. In most cases, people will be charged for a misdemeanor offense under the state's petty theft statutes.

Shoplifting offenses involve thefts from stores. They normally involve two primary elements that the state will be required to prove in its prosecution. Generally, shoplifting must involve taking are concealing an item that is for sale. The person must also have done so with the intent to not pay for the item while depriving the store of the item's possession.

Under California law, shoplifting is charged as a misdemeanor if the value of the item allegedly taken is under the amount of $950. People who are convicted of misdemeanor shoplifting face the possibility of receiving jail time, fines, probation, community service or restitution. Sentences for subsequent shoplifting convictions will normally be longer than those for the first offense.

Many people are charged with shoplifting in California every year. While some people may not think it is a big deal, receiving a theft conviction can lead to unexpected collateral consequences long after the case has been completed. People who have theft convictions on their records may have a harder time finding employment and housing. Those who have been charged with shoplifting may want to seek help from a criminal defense attorney. An attorney may be able to help by identifying and presenting defenses to the charges. For example, in some cases, the prosecutor will be unable to prove the necessary intent element, rendering the case defensible. In other cases, a defense attorney may be able to secure favorable pleas for their clients.

Source: FindLaw, "Shoplifting," Accessed April 16, 2015

Source:, " PENAL CODE SECTION 484-502.9," Accessed April 16, 2015

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