Understanding the charges and potential defenses you can raise to avoid a conviction is crucial. For assistance after a shoplifting charge, contact Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with an experienced San Diego shoplifting attorney. Contact our San Diego office at (619) 357-4977.
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How Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers Can Help If You’re Arrested for Shoplifting in San Diego
If you have been arrested for shoplifting in San Diego, CA, we can help. Here are some specific steps our San Diego theft crimes lawyers can take when you come to us for help:
- We will review the charges against you and determine what evidence exists to support them.
- We will explain the potential consequences so you know what to expect.
- We will negotiate with the prosecutor to see if they are willing to offer a reasonable plea deal or the opportunity for diversion.
- We will develop legal defenses and work our hardest to defend you at trial if it comes to that.
If you need a lawyer after being arrested for shoplifting in San Diego, CA, contact Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers to schedule a free consultation.
Overview of Shoplifting in California
In California, shoplifting is defined as entering an open commercial establishment during business hours with the intent to steal merchandise worth less than $950. If you decided to steal something once you entered the store, it isn’t considered shoplifting (though you could certainly be charged with something else).
Examples of Shoplifting:
Shoplifting is more than just taking an item from a store and walking out. Here are some other examples:
Switching Price Tags
Switching price tags is a prime example of shoplifting that may seem harmless but can land someone in serious trouble. In this scenario, a person intentionally removes a price tag from one item and replaces it with the tag from another, less expensive item. By doing this, they attempt to deceive the store employee and pay a lower price for the item than it’s actually worth.
Attempting To Leave a Store With Concealed Items
Attempting to leave a store with concealed items is another form of shoplifting, and you can be charged even if you don’t make it out of the store with the item.
Hiding an Item Inside Something Else You’ve Paid For
A more creative method of shoplifting involves hiding one item inside another one that’s being purchased. For example, a person might purchase a large container or box and place a smaller, unpaid item inside before heading to the register. This act can be difficult for employees to detect but is illegal under California law.
What Are the Penalties for Shoplifting in San Diego, California?
If you are charged with a misdemeanor for shoplifting in California, possible penalties include probation, up to six months in county jail, and a fine not exceeding $1,000.
If you have certain prior convictions, you can be charged with felony shoplifting, and the consequences are much more severe. They include formal probation, up to three years in county jail, and a fine of up to $10,000.
In addition to the criminal consequences of shoplifting, there are also collateral consequences you can face:
If you’re an immigrant living in California and are caught shoplifting, even a minor theft can lead to severe consequences like deportation. This is because shoplifting is considered a crime of moral turpitude by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
A shoplifting conviction can make it challenging to keep a job in California. While there are protections for employees with criminal convictions, there are certain times when an employer can ask you about your criminal history and take action because of it.
Disciplinary Action and License Revocation
For those who hold professional licenses, a shoplifting conviction might lead to disciplinary action by the licensing board. This could result in the suspension or revocation of the professional license, forcing you to cease working in that profession altogether.
What Defenses Can Be Raised If I’m Accused of Shoplifting in San Diego, CA?
The mere accusation of shoplifting can be an embarrassing and stressful experience. Fortunately, there are legal defenses that you can raise. The most common include the following:
You Didn’t Form the Intent To Steal Until After You’d Entered the Establishment
One of the critical elements that the prosecutor must prove in a shoplifting case is that you had the intent to steal the item before entering the store. But what if you only realized you were going to take the item after you had entered the establishment?
In these cases, your defense might argue that you only formed the intent to steal once you were already inside.
It’s crucial to gather evidence supporting this assertion, such as witness statements or surveillance footage and the presence of cash or credit cards on your person, to argue that you didn’t intend to commit the crime when you walked into the store.
Diversion is Appropriate in Your Case
Some first-time offenders may be eligible for a diversion program. Diversion programs allow the accused to complete specific requirements like community service, counseling, or educational courses about theft prevention.
The charges will be dismissed upon successful completion, leaving your record clean. Talk to your lawyer about your eligibility for such programs and explore whether this could be a viable option in your case.
You Were Mistaken About the Facts
People are sometimes genuinely mistaken about the facts surrounding the alleged incident. For example, you might have thought someone paid for the item on your behalf or believed that you had already paid.
In these situations, your defense attorney can argue that your mistake of fact negates the criminal intent necessary to convict you of shoplifting.
You’ve Agreed To Make Restitution to the Shopkeeper
If you’re willing to compensate the store owner for the merchandise you’re accused of stealing, the prosecutor will be more inclined to reduce or dismiss the charges against you.
By agreeing to pay restitution, you demonstrate your commitment to making things right and taking responsibility for your actions.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With Our San Diego Shoplifting Lawyers
If you’ve been arrested for shoplifting, hiring a San Diego criminal lawyer should be your first step. While shoplifting may seem like a relatively minor crime, it still carries jail time and significant fines. Contact Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with a San Diego shoplifting attorney.
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