Shoplifting, also known as petty theft, may seem minor. However, the consequences can be quite severe, especially in Los Angeles County. Law enforcement agencies and retailers take shoplifting exceptionally seriously due to the substantial financial losses it causes businesses annually.

In California, shoplifting falls under the broader category of petty theft or larceny. The state distinguishes between two types of theft crimes: petty theft and grand theft. The primary difference lies in the monetary value of the items stolen.

Shoplifting Falls Under the Broader Category of Petty Theft or Larceny

Petty Theft (Shoplifting)

Petty theft occurs when someone unlawfully takes merchandise or money worth $950 or less. This offense is typically a misdemeanor in California. The potential penalties for petty theft or shoplifting in Los Angeles include:

  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Up to six months in county jail
  • Both a fine and jail time

It is crucial to note that subsequent petty theft convictions can result in harsher penalties. For instance, if you have a prior shoplifting conviction, the jail sentence could increase to one year in county jail.

Additionally, if the shoplifting incident involved specific aggravating factors, the charges could potentially be elevated to a felony. These factors may include:

  • Using an emergency exit to flee the premises
  • Causing over $950 worth of property damage during the shoplifting
  • Being part of an organized retail theft ring
  • Committing the theft while armed with a deadly weapon

Grand Theft

When the value of the stolen merchandise exceeds $950, the crime escalates to grand theft, a more severe offense. Grand theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. A felony grand theft conviction carries potential penalties of:

  • 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Diversion Programs

In certain cases, first-time offenders charged with petty theft or shoplifting in Los Angeles County may be eligible for diversion programs. These programs offer an opportunity to avoid formal prosecution and a criminal record by completing specified conditions, such as:

  • Attending a shoplifting education course
  • Performing community service
  • Paying restitution to the affected business

Civil Penalties

In addition to criminal penalties, shoplifters in Los Angeles can face civil liabilities. Under California’s Civil Code, retailers can sue shoplifters to recover:

  • The retail value of the merchandise (up to $500)
  • Additional penalties (up to $1,000)
  • Attorney’s fees and court costs

Retailers often pursue these civil remedies, especially against repeat offenders or in cases involving significant monetary losses.

Long-Term Consequences

Apart from the immediate legal penalties, a shoplifting conviction can have long-lasting consequences that affect various aspects of your life. These may include:

  • A permanent criminal record, which can impact employment opportunities, housing options, and travel.
  • Difficulty obtaining professional licenses or security clearances.
  • Ineligibility for certain government benefits or student loans.
  • Potential immigration consequences for non-U.S. citizens.

Preventing Shoplifting

To avoid the severe consequences of a shoplifting conviction, it is essential to understand the gravity of the offense and take preventative measures. Some tips to prevent shoplifting include:

  • Budget and plan your shopping: Impulse purchases often lead to financial strain and the temptation to take what you cannot afford.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings: Don’t take your eyes off your belongings while shopping.
  • Seek help if struggling financially: There are various resources available to help with financial difficulties. Do not resort to stealing to make
  • Be patient and wait in line to pay for items.
  • If you accidentally leave a store with unpaid merchandise, return it immediately and explain the mistake.
  • Do not conceal items in bags or pockets before paying.
  • Resist peer pressure or dares to shoplift.
  • Seek help if you have a compulsive shoplifting habit.

In Los Angeles, law enforcement agencies and retailers collaborate closely to combat shoplifting. They employ various security measures, such as surveillance cameras, undercover security officers, and advanced inventory tracking systems.

Let Us Help You Today

If you or someone you know has been charged with shoplifting in Los Angeles, it is crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. A knowledgeable lawyer can evaluate the specific circumstances of your case, advise you on your legal options, and work to minimize the potential consequences.

Shoplifting may seem like a minor transgression, but the consequences can be severe and long-lasting in Los Angeles. Remember, shoplifting is a serious offense in California. Do not underestimate the potential consequences. If you have been accused, contact Kosnett Law Firm today for consultation. We will stand by your side every step of the way.

Share on :
Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Leave a comment