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Can I be charged with a Felony for Shoplifting?

Can I be charged with a Felony for Shoplifting?


In 2014, the citizens of the State of California voted to pass Proposition 47, which significantly reduced sentences of specific crimes committed within the state.  Shoplifting is one of those charges making this offense a “wobbler” offense. In certain circumstances, the charge of Shoplifting (prior to 2014) may have been charged as a felony. Proposition 47; however, modified these guidelines by reclassifying Shoplifting as a misdemeanor in some cases.


Shoplifting as a Wobbler Charge:

Shoplifting may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony based upon the amount and whether you are a repeat offender. For example, if the amount of the item or items is less than $950, and this is your first shoplifting offense, then it will generally be charged as a misdemeanor. However, if the amount is over $950, it may be charged as a felony Burglary or Grand Theft, or if this is a second or subsequent offense.


Misdemeanor Versus Felony Shoplifting:

One may be charged with misdemeanor shoplifting if this is the first offense and the value of the merchandise is under $950.00. On the other hand, if this is a second or subsequent shoplifting offense or exceeds $950.00, you may be charged and convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. It is important to note, that if the fair market value of the merchandise does, in fact, exceed $950.00, it can be charged as Grand Theft as well, which in the State of California is a felony. There may be additional aggravating factors that may result in a felony charge and/or conviction such as shoplifting while armed or trespassing.


Examples of Shoplifting:

A citizen enters a store with the intent to steal a laptop that is valued at $750.00. Perhaps someone enters a department store, purchases a watch, but removes five additional watches valued at $500.00 and places them into their backpack. In another scenario, a person enters a department store, removes merchandise from the shelf or rack, and takes it to customer service for an in-store credit or refund. 

Although these are clear and deliberate examples of shoplifting, there must be proof that the defendant stole/removed the merchandise and that it was done with intent. In other words, was the removal of the merchandise done with intent, and was there an attempt to conceal the merchandise? Finally, was the defendant caught with the merchandise in question with an attempt to exit the business without paying? Eyewitness testimony, security camera footage, etc., would assist in supporting reasonable doubt for a conviction.

Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law group patiently await your call.

H Law Group Online

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