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
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.