A theft crime involves the movement or taking away of an item, without permission from the owner, with the further intent to permanently deprive said owner of that particular piece of property.
Shoplifting (PC 459.5), which is a theft crime, is committed when a person enters a commercial establishment while it is open, with the intent to steal items. Considering the elite status of most Beverly Hills shopping stores and the increased value of most retail items, there is a zero tolerance policy adopted by all of them.
Forms of Shoplifting
- Petty theft (a misdemeanor) – shoplifters will be charged with petty theft when the items taken are valued at $950 or less
- Grand theft (a felony) – shoplifters will be charged with grand theft when the items taken are valued at more than $950.
First time offenders will usually be sentenced to fines of up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail. Repeat offenders typically will be exposed to much stiffer penalties/fines and jail time.
Under PC 666 (“Petty Theft With a Prior”), if a person has been convicted and served time for petty theft, grand theft, grand theft auto, burglary, carjacking, robbery, or felony receiving stolen property and if the prior theft conviction was committed against an elder under CA elder abuse law or that person has been convicted of a prior theft and either: 1) is a registered sex offender under PC 290, or 2) there is a prior conviction for a serious felony under PC 667 (e)(2)(C) (murder, attempted murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, forcible sex crimes, and sex crimes against children under 14 years old), then a petty theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. In the criminal law world, this is called a wobbler: a crime that is possible to charge as one or the other.
- Lack of intent – this defense is more common with juveniles or the inexperienced shopper. For instance, some people from other countries where the customs are quite different from those in the United States may not be familiar with the American way of shopping. In some countries, especially Third World countries, vendors are known for allowing a customer to temporarily take an item out of a store to show or get approval from a companion, or providing shoppers an opportunity to take a desired item away with them and return later to submit payment. As such, the same shopper might engage in the same practices here in the U.S. with no intent to permanently deprive the retail/commercial store of that property without paying for it. In such a case, a jury cannot convict a person of shoplifting.
- Mistake – As our culture has become one of multitasking, it is easy to get distracted while shopping. Often if we receive a phone call, begin texting, surfing the net, or need to tend to a fussy child (or spouse or parent!), it is easy to walk out of a store and forget that you have picked up an item. Also, small children, who do not understand and appreciate the meaning of theft, may inadvertantly stow away a retail item unbeknownst to the parent. In this case, there is a lack of knowledge, and the alleged shoplifter accidentally walked out of a commercial store without having tendered payment for a retail item, and, thus, cannot be convicted of shoplifting.
Gastelum Law is a firm reputable for demonstrating the skills required to contest against shoplifting liability. If you have been charged with shoplifting in Beverly Hills, contact the attorneys at Gastelum, a team of highly experienced legal professionals with the vigor and sophistication to defend against high end retail stores.