Shoplifting Charges

San Diego County Theft Defense Lawyer

In all probability you will not receive a jail sentence, but if you were booked into jail for the offense a third subsequent shoplifting case, normally also a misdemeanor, can be filed as a felony as a result of this conviction.

Additionally, shoplifting is generally considered a crime of "moral turpitude" and can result in you being denied admittance to college, or obtaining employment, or retaining a teacher or real estate license. Thus, even as a misdemeanor, it is a serious conviction to have on your record. Whenever possible, reduction in charges is sought to avoid these potentially adverse consequences.

Some stores maintain video surveillance equipment which can track a suspect's movements in the store. If so, it is important to obtain a copy of this video, which oftentimes can be damaging, but sometimes helpful. Additionally, under PC § 490.5, stores have the right to charge shoplifters up to $500.00 for the cost of the security service, and they will bill you for up to that amount about a month after the arrest. Sometimes these fees can be negotiated downward.

Most store security personnel try to get a shoplifting suspect to sign a release of liability form whereby the person is persuaded to admit guilt on the form. This form is usually not provided to the DA so a "discovery request" must be made to obtain this form, which can be helpful if the suspect refuses to sign it or maintains his or her innocence on the form.

Also, the law does allow for a misdemeanor theft offense to be "civilly compromised," i.e., the victim accepts restitution for the theft and then agrees not to prosecute in return for that restitution being paid. Most stores will not agree to this procedure, however, for fear that the DA will no longer prosecute their cases.