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Home » Theft Attorney » Shoplifting Attorney

California Shoplifting Lawyer Penal Code 459.5 PC

How Can My Rights Law’s Shoplifting Lawyer Help Me?

Imagine this. You’re at home, sitting on your couch, as you flip through various channels. Suddenly, your eyes bulge and your jaw drops when you see a store camera video of someone riding a bicycle into a store and leaving with products. It’s not that the person was on a bicycle that caught your eyes. It’s that the person didn’t pay for the products. What makes matters worse is that the person plastered on the TV screen is you! All sorts of thoughts race through your mind. The news anchor begins talking about shoplifting. If you’re in California and want to know more about shoplifting laws, continue reading below.

California Shoplifting Attorneys Penal Code 459.5 PC

Suppose you have been charged with shoplifting, theft, or other related crimes. In that case, your best bet is to retain the services of an experienced California theft defense attorney who will aggressively fight for your rights and defend you against the charges. My Rights Law theft attorneys have extensive experience defending the rights of California clients who have been charged with criminal offenses, including shoplifting. We will fight relentlessly to get you the best resolution possible, given your circumstances. Call us at (888) 702-8882 or contact us through our secure web form today for a free consultation regarding your case.

What Is Shoplifting? – Penal Code 459.5 PC

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the news, you may have heard grumblings about recent shoplifting occurrences throughout California. Certain cities, such as San Francisco, have been swamped with tens of thousands of shoplifting incidents. And there’s no shortage of YouTube videos documenting people strolling into retail stores and walking out with unpurchased goods. You might find yourself wondering, “Exactly, what constitutes shoplifting? Is it the same as burglary?”

Shoplifting occurs when:

  • You enter a commercial store
  • During regular business hours
  • And commit the act or have the intention to steal merchandise worth $950 or less.[1]

If your actions don’t fit these requirements, then you’ve possibly committed some other crime—but not shoplifting.[2] Now, consider whether you shoplifted a store individually or as a group. Most likely, if a group of five or more people shoplifts a store, especially a clothing store, you all are likely bound to take more than $950 worth of goods. This California law, however, divides the total value of the items by the number of individuals involved in the crime. In other words, each of you may take up to $950 for a judge or jury to find you guilty of the crime of shoplifting, as defined in California law.

What Are The Penalties For Shoplifting? – Penal Code 459.5 PC

Shoplifting is a misdemeanor crime.[3] Although committing a misdemeanor crime puts you at risk of losing your freedom or your career, and being taken from your family, it’s less severe than a felony. Generally, if a judge convicts you of a misdemeanor, they may sentence you to up to six months in county jail and up to a $1000 fine or probation.

Recently, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that will increase the penalty for shoplifting.[4] Under this new bill, even if the stolen items are valued at less than $950, if you stole them as part of an organized criminal ring that looks to resell these goods, say, on eBay or Amazon, it’s a felony. Of course, it’s still up to the prosecutor to increase the penalty, and there are still defenses that you can raise to challenge the charges.

The state cannot charge you with shoplifting and burglary or shoplifting and theft of the same property. It’s one or the other. Also, if you have one or more prior convictions and you are accused of shoplifting, a prosecutor may charge it as a felony.

The state may increase your misdemeanor to a felony if your prior convictions are one of the following.

  • Murder
  • Assaulting an officer of the peace or firefighter with a machine gun
  • Gross vehicular manslaughter while under the influence of alcohol
  • Sexual offense crimes that require you to register as a sexual offender, and more.

Other exceptions may apply, so it’s in your best interest to consult experienced California criminal defense attorneys today.

What Are Viable Defenses To Shoplifting Charges? – Penal Code 459.5 PC

For a judge or jury to find you guilty of shoplifting, the prosecutor must prove that:

  • You entered a commercial establishment
  • During normal business hours
  • With the intention to commit theft

Naturally, one of the obvious defenses to shoplifting, then, could be that you didn’t enter the store during regular business hours.[5] While this will not absolve you of having committed a crime entirely, the charge will be different. Different requirements affect your defenses and any potential punishment.

Another obvious defense is that you didn’t have any ill intentions at the time you entered the establishment. Rather, the act or crime you committed was a spur of the moment type of thing. If that’s the case, a prosecutor will likely only charge you with petty theft. Petty theft is another misdemeanor crime that comes with the same punishment as shoplifting. As with shoplifting, though, the charge can go from misdemeanor to felony if you have prior convictions. Many petty theft charges, however, especially for first-time offenders, are dropped.

Other defenses include:

  • Mistaken identity
  • Coercion
  • Mistake of fact, such as you genuinely believed certain items were free or you misunderstood a “buy one, get one” campaign
  • Civil compromise

To better evaluate your case and craft possible defenses, you should consult with us today so that we have a clearer understanding of the facts of your case.

Call My Rights Law California Shoplifting Attorneys Today

My Rights Law is an experienced, compassionate firm of attorneys who have decades of criminal defense knowledge in the game. We know how humiliating and debilitating the accusation of shoplifting can have on your life. We know how it can hinder your career or goals. That’s why we fight hard to protect your rights and to safeguard your freedoms. For a free consultation, call us today at (888) 702-8882 or leave a message on our secure web form.

Other theft crimes we defend include: Robbery

[1] Refer to People v. Root, (2016) 245 Cal. App. 4th 353 at 355.
[2] Refer to People v. Gonzalez, (2015) 242 Cal. App. 4th 35.
[3] Refer to CA Penal Code 459.5(a).
[4] Refer to KTVU News.
[5] Refer to CA Penal Code 459.5.

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