Shoplifting, also known as
petty theft or
grand theft, is defined in California as the taking and carrying away of merchandise
from a store or business establishment, without the owner's consent,
and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
This crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony and is prosecuted
under California Penal Code sections 484, 487 and 488. If the value of
the property involved in the theft is $950 or less, it is a misdemeanor
punishable by up to six months in county jail plus a fine and three years
of informal probation.
First-time petty theft offenders are not looking at county jail time unless
they have a prior theft-related conviction or other criminal history.
If the value of the property is over $950, then the crime can be charged
as felony grand theft, punishable by 16 months to three years in state
prison. With the new sentencing law effective October 1, 2011, that state
prison sentence could potentially be served in the county jail.
Theft convictions in California are serious and should be handled by an
experienced criminal defense attorney with a successful track record.
Employers today are conducting extensive background checks on prospective
employees. Employers often consider a theft conviction from
shoplifting to be a serious dishonest act and a character flaw justifying rejecting
employment. Consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer before
you speak with store security personnel or law enforcement.