With the holiday season fast approaching, retail stores across the nation are preparing for an increase in shoppers. Although more shoppers mean more business, it can also mean a greater likelihood for shoplifting. Throughout the years, shoplifting has always been a concern for retailers, and especially so during the holiday season. As such, they take additional efforts to employ loss prevention specialists, increase security, and take measures to reduce the loss of their products.
At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our criminal defense lawyers have years of combined experience representing clients charged with various crimes. These include shoplifting and theft offenses. Our experience has also shown that there is also an increase in shoplifting arrests.
Under California law, PC 459.5, shoplifting is a criminal offense defined by entering a commercial business, during open business hours, with an intent to commit theft, and when property taken or intended to be taken amounts to $950 dollars or less. In most cases, shoplifting is a misdemeanor. However, penalties can still be stiff, including up to a $1,000 in fines and up to six months imprisonment. Penalties may also be enhanced when the value of property stolen exceeds $950, or when an individual has prior shoplifting convictions.
While some defense strategies in shoplifting cases may focus on seeking a reduction in charges and penalties, including no jail time, there may be other defense strategies available. This is especially true during the holiday season, when businesses, loss prevention specialists, and security guards may be overzealous in accusing innocent shoppers of theft.
Depending on the circumstances involved in a case, it may be appropriate to gather evidence and structure arguments that refute the government’s allegations. This may involve:
- Proving a defendant did not intend to steal. Shoplifting is an intent-based crime, and it requires an individual to enter a commercial business with the intent of stealing property.
- Proving a defendant did not actually steal property can be a viable defense in cases where they were stopped and detained by mistake. This is far more likely to occur in crowded shopping areas and when security or loss prevention guards are overzealous during the holidays.
If you or someone you love is charged with shoplifting during the holidays, be aware that there are serious potential penalties on the line. To protect your rights and explore your defense options, you can work with experienced criminal defense lawyers like those at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP. Our attorneys have over half a century of combined experience, and are led by Attorney Jeremy Lessem, a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist by the California Board of Legal Specialization. Backed by this insight and expertise, we can help clients facing all types of shoplifting and theft-related charges across Southern California.
To discuss your case with an attorney, call (800) 295-1054 for a FREE consultation.