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How Much Does a Shoplifting Charge Cost?

How Much Does a Shoplifting Charge Cost?


It is our nature to inquire about cost. When purchasing a car, home, groceries, or even a night out at a restaurant, we want to know the cost associated with the goods or services. That is a representation of monetary cost or value, but there is a non-monetary cost associated with a criminal charge and conviction as well.

Looking at the history and meaning of cost, there is generally a price (e.g. $500.00) or a process of giving up something (i.e. rights, freedom, etc.). Those that have been charged with either misdemeanor or felony shoplifting will often ask “what’s it going to cost me?” Well, the short answer is; it depends on a number of factors. First, is this a misdemeanor or a felony? What was the amount of the stolen merchandise? Is this a first-time shoplifting offense? Are there aggravating circumstances such as shoplifting while armed?

Under the California Penal Code 459.5, a Misdemeanor conviction for Shoplifting carries a maximum penalty of up to six months in county jail and up to a $1000.00 fine.  A Felony conviction for Shoplifting carries a maximum penalty of up to three years in state prison and up to a $10,000.00 fine.  If convicted of a Misdemeanor charge of Shoplifting, then a judge may order probation of up to six months in lieu of jail.

There are ways to mitigate/reduce the costs associated with such a conviction. First, do you have a criminal history, specifically, for shoplifting? Second, do you have a solid and/or legitimate defense? Here is a shortlist of common defenses commonly applied to shoplifting cases, but what is most important is you are entitled to legal representation.

  1. Lack of intent: In order to be convicted of a charge of Shoplifting, all of the elements of the charge must be met. In other words, while shopping, perhaps you did not intend to steal the merchandise, but because of fatigue, distraction, or absent-mindedness, you left the store without paying.
  2. Mistaken item: You accidentally took the item thinking that it belonged to you. Perhaps you took the item because it was just like the one you own and did not realize that it belonged to another or the store.
  3. Wrongfully accused: Where an eyewitness identified you as the culprit of the theft, but security footage shows otherwise.
  4. Owner’s permission: Perhaps the owner gave you consent to take or use the item/merchandise without specifying the return. 
  5. Police misconduct: This applies to unreasonable searches or coercing a confession.

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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