Caught Stealing? Overview on Shoplifting

Retail theft is a crime that spans across all ages and socioeconomic statuses and is something that many people do at some point in their lives. However, shoplifting can have serious consequences that can affect your criminal history, future, and livelihood, and criminal charges for shoplifting should be taken very seriously.

Understanding the theft charges filed against you is critical before making a binding decision such as accepting a plea deal from the San Diego prosecutor’s office; you should always speak with a reputable criminal defense attorney before making any legal decisions to ensure your legal rights are being preserved. The Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC has over 16 years experience helping San Diego residents accused of shoplifting. Call for a free consultation.

Punishments for Retail Theft in California

Even a first time offender of retail theft may face jail time and significant fines. If the value of the goods stolen from the store is greater than $950, however, the offender will face felony grand theft charges, which can lead to even more severe consequences.

A first-time offender convicted of grand theft may face jail time anywhere from sixteen months to three years, and may be responsible for fines of up to $10,000. Retail theft, depending on the time of day and how the goods were stolen, may also be charged as:

  • Burglary
  • Breaking and entering
  • Trespassing

These offenses may be in lieu of or in addition to retail theft charges depending on the circumstances. There are also additional charges that may be filed if the goods stolen involved a vehicle or a firearm.

There are many valid legal defenses to retail theft, all of which can be explored by a criminal defense attorney. Retail theft crimes defense requires a hard look at the circumstances surrounding the theft, the arrest, and the police questioning thereafter in order to craft a solid legal defense. In circumstances where the defendant admits fault or the prosecution has a solid case (such as when there is videotape evidence or a confession from the defendant), there are still options and defenses for the accused.

In criminal law, successful criminal lawyers can often negotiate lesser charges for their clients, especially first time offenders that take responsibility for their actions and are willing to cooperate with probationary terms. Completion of certain programs may result in a dismissal of charges, leaving criminal defendants with no conviction on their record. The accused may also be eligible to pay civil restitution for the harm they caused, also potentially resulting in a dismissal of charges.

San Diego Shoplifting Defense Attorney

Many people underestimate the severity of theft crimes, particularly retail theft crimes. Theft is considered a crime involving your character, and may have a significant impact on your professional, educational, and personal options in the future, should a conviction be on your criminal record. Even if you admit that you stole from a store or another person, there are valid legal defenses that may shield you from conviction or result in lesser charges being filed against you.

In order to learn more about your legal options, contact the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC. Attorney Bajaj is knowledgeable about all variations of theft, whether it was from a residence or a business, and whether this is your first or fourth criminal offense. Contact his San Diego office at (619) 525-7005 today.

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