Shoplifting Penalties

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Misdemeanor Shoplifting and Theft

Wandering through a store or around someone’s personal property, you may see something that catches your eye. Before you steal the item from the property, it is important to consider the consequences; shoplifting and other forms of theft can result in heavy fines and time in jail. Depending on the item stolen and the circumstances under which it was taken, the penalties can be even higher. Petty theft is often considered a misdemeanor, but what exactly is petty theft? In order for a theft to qualify, it must meet several circumstances: first, the item(s) taken must be valued at or below $950; second, the item stolen cannot have been a car, firearm, or other such item; and third, the item much not have been taken off of another person – this would be classified as a mugging,not petty theft.

For a first time offender, the penalty for petty theft is a fine of up to $1000, and/or up to six months in jail. You may also be placed on probation. First-time offenders typically have an easier time reducing the charges that are being laid against them, especially when the item that was stolen is valued at less than $50. Reduced charges typically still include a fine of up to $250, but the charge will be downgraded to a less serious offense.
In the state of California, you may also pursue something called a “diversion program,” which takes place pretrial and is an option for those who are first-time offenders, or for those who committed a low-level crime. Under such a program, you typically complete community service and repay the victim, and after your time is served the charges against you are dismissed. An attorney can negotiate the best possible outcome for your situation and minimize the damage caused by your momentary error in judgment.

Penalties for shoplifting and other forms of petty theft are stricter if you are a repeat offender. If you have previously been charged with theft – be it petty theft, grand theft, robbery, or another form of theft–you could be charged with a felony. Petty theft with a prior can still be charged as a misdemeanor; under this, you could face up to one year in jail. However, if it is tried as a felony, you could face up to three years in jail or a state prison, depending on what your prior convictions were.

Why Takakjian & Sitkoff?

Whatever the circumstances of your case, it is crucial that you seek legal counsel. An experienced attorney can look at the facts of your case and can guide you through your options and help you reach the best possible outcome. At Takakjian & Sitkoff, we are experienced in petty theft cases and can help you make the most of your situation.Whether you are a first time offender or you have faced these charges before, our attorneys can analyze your case and help you obtain the best possible outcome. If you are in the greater Los Angeles area, we can help you fight the charges being brought against you.Call us today to schedule a consultation and let our knowledgeable attorneys guide you through the legal process.

Stephen Sitkoff

Stephen Sitkoff

Partner and Criminal Defense Attorney

Stephen Sitkoff is a partner at Sitkoff & Hanrahan who started his legal career as a deputy district attorney more than 30 years ago prosecuting cases throughout the LA criminal court system in Southern California.
Eugene Hanrahan@2x

Eugene Hanrahan

Partner and Criminal Defense Attorney

Eugene Hanrahan is both a former federal and county prosecutor and partner at Sitkoff & Hanrahan, LLP with two decades of criminal law experience. Mr. Hanrahan’s criminal defense expertise ranges from misdemeanors to serious, complex felony cases.
James Kim

James Kim

Senior Case Analyst

James possesses over a decade of legal experience and serves as the firm’s senior case analyst handling the initial calls from prospective clients.