Shoplifting Criminal Defense Attorney

Any theft offense, including shoplifting, can have a devastating impact on your criminal record and your ability to find employment.  Job loss and professional licensing issues are common.  If you have been cited, arrested, or charged with shoplifting, call the Law Office of Jay S. Finnecy IMMEDIATELY for a free initial consultation.

760-522-7006 or 619-855-3003

California Penal Code section 459.5(a) defines shoplifting as entering a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny (theft) while that establishment is open during regular business hours, where the value of the property that is taken [or intended to be taken] does not exceed nine hundred fifty ($950). 

Penal Code section 459.5(b) provides that any act of shoplifting as defined in subdivision (a) shall be charged as shoplifting.  No person who is charged with shoplifting may also be charged with burglary or theft of the same property.  Before Proposition 47 (Penal Code section 1170.18), many shoplifting incidents were charged as felony commercial burglaries in violation of Penal Code section 459.

Retailers like Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Costco, Target, Macy’s, Sephora, Home Depot, and many others have full-time loss prevention officers watching for shoplifters.  Video surveillance is widely used and fitting rooms are carefully monitored. 

Shoplifting is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to six months in county jail, although as with most misdemeanors, jail time is unlikely.  In San Diego County, the standard punishment for shoplifting includes a fine (currently $696), 1 day custody satisfied by book and release from county jail, restitution to the victim, search conditions or 4th Amendment waiver, and an order to stay away from the particular retailer. 

The consequences of any theft conviction extend far beyond the initial punishment.  Job loss and difficult finding employment are common.  Most pre-employment background checks will reveal a theft offense if you were booked into jail or prosecuted in court and convicted of theft.  Attorney Jay S. Finnecy will do whatever he possibly can to help you avoid a theft conviction.  Diversion programs may be available together with other creative options. 

Questions will also arise about “civil demand” letters mailed by law firms on behalf of the retailer threatening a civil lawsuit if payment is not made.  Attorney Jay S. Finnecy will advise you how to handle the civil demand (IGONRE IT) and will contact the demanding law firm on your behalf to request that all future communications be directed to your attorney, the Law Office of Jay S. Finnecy.   Handling the civil demand properly will save you hundreds of dollars. 

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