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The Criminal Consequences of Shoplifting in California: Everything You Need to Know

A jail cell with bars over the window.

From the moment you are detained in a store for shoplifting, your life is changed forever. Your criminal record may be affected, or a lawsuit could be launched against you for damages to the property. In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about being charged with shoplifting in California, including potential sentences and punishments that might be imposed if you’re found guilty. We'll also outline steps you can take after being arrested on suspicion of shoplifting that will ensure your rights as a defendant are protected throughout the process.

What Are the Penalties for Shoplifting in California?

Shoplifting is a criminal offense in the state of California and can carry serious penalties. Shoplifting is defined by California law as taking possession of or carrying away merchandise from any store or retail establishment with the intention to deprive the owner of said merchandise without paying for it. Depending on the value of the items taken, shoplifting can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense.

If the items taken are valued at less than $950, then a defendant will likely face misdemeanor charges punishable by up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1000. If convicted, individuals may also have to make restitution (i.e., pay back) to the store for its loss.

In addition to these criminal consequences, shoplifters may also face civil penalties, including being sued by business owners to recoup losses.

If the items taken are valued at more than $950, then defendants will likely face felony charges punishable by up to three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. These harsher penalties apply when defendants take advantage of their positions as store employees or when they use force or threats against another person while committing the crime.

Furthermore, repeat offenders (those who have been previously convicted for shoplifting) could face even harsher punishments depending on their criminal record and other factors, such as whether weapons were present while the crime was being committed.

It’s important for anyone accused of shoplifting to contact an experienced attorney who can help them evaluate their legal options and offer advice regarding how best to proceed with their case. An attorney may be able to get charges reduced or dismissed altogether so that defendants do not have to suffer the full extent of criminal penalties associated with a shoplifting conviction in California.

Contact Our Experienced Shoplifting Defense Lawyers in Santa Barbara for a Free Consultation Today

Our shoplifting defense attorneys at Appel & Morse have over 40 years of collective legal experience. Our criminal defense team has a long history of helping clients fight theft crimes charges, including helping defendants get the charges against them reduced or dismissed.

Read our clients’ testimonials to learn more about how Appel & Morse has helped clients overcome criminal charges.

Give us a call at (805) 467-6060 or reach out to us online today for a free, no-obligation consultation with our experienced criminal defense lawyers in Santa Barbara.

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