San Diego Theft & Shoplifting Lawyer
Everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, a moment of distraction or forgetfulness can lead an innocent person to face criminal charges for theft or shoplifting.
Suppose you stop at the grocery store on your way home from work after a long day. You’re exhausted, low on energy, and you hurriedly go through your grocery list one item at a time. You put a couple of things on the bottom shelf of your grocery cart after your basket is full and make your way to the long line to check out. By the time you go through the checkout, in your rush to get home, you forget about the groceries on the bottom shelf. You take your cart filled with groceries to feed your family and make your way towards your vehicle. On the way, you’re stopped by the store’s security team and accused of shoplifting.
There is a myriad of reasons why someone might be accused of a theft crime. Perhaps you made a careless and innocent mistake like the situation above, or maybe you were in a desperate time in your life where you needed to feed your family or cut corners to keep a roof over your head. Perhaps you had a momentary lapse of judgment when faced with temptation after falling under the influence of the wrong crowd.
Whatever the reason may be, understand that you are not alone. Theft charges are some of the most commonly seen in San Diego County criminal courts. Depending on the dollar amount and the circumstances, a charge for theft and shoplifting can range from a minor misdemeanor to a serious felony. If you find yourself in any situation where you’re facing criminal charges for theft, a San Diego theft and shoplifting defense lawyer can help.
A Skilled San Diego Theft Lawyer
If you have been arrested for theft in Southern California, the effects of having a crime on your record could be far-reaching and permanently affect your reputation. False accusations can happen, and you can be arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If caught in a situation like this, you need the skilled legal assistance of a San Diego theft attorney. That’s Dod Law, APC, in Vista and Downtown San Diego, led by Dod Ghassemkhani.
In a career that includes working on more than 6,500 cases, Dod brings 17 years of experience to create strong representation in fighting for your rights. He and his legal team are knowledgeable, aggressive, and dependable in their effort to help you overcome criminal charges.
What is Shoplifting?
Any person who mindfully removes merchandise marked for sale from a store or business with no intent to pay for it can be charged for shoplifting. These charges are described under California Penal Code 459.5 as the following:
“Shoplifting is defined as entering a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny 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 dollars ($950). Any other entry into a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny is burglary.”
Tampering with or switching price tags to pay a lower price on an item marked for sale in a store is also considered shoplifting under California Penal Code and is regarded as a separate offense from petty theft.
Common Types of Theft Charges In San Diego That Dod Law Can Handle
- Shoplifting: Any theft that occurs in a commercial establishment, such as a grocery or department store, is considered shoplifting.
- Petty Theft: Any theft that’s not considered grand theft is categorized as petty theft. Described under California Penal Code §488, any theft or stolen money valued at or less than $950 falls under the misdemeanor offense of petty theft. However, if the theft’s value is at or below $50, it can be charged as an infraction.
- Grand Theft: Any theft or stolen money valued at more than $950 is considered grand theft. That is a felony charge and one that’s taken seriously in California criminal courts. Depending on the item that’s stolen, grand theft can be punished with time in county jail ranging from one to three years under California Penal Code §1170(h).
- Theft by False Pretenses: Using deception to fraudulently persuade someone to give you their property is a severe offense that can be charged as petty theft or grand theft, depending on the dollar amount.
- Grand Theft Auto: Stealing someone else’s vehicle without the intention of returning it is a felony offense.
- Receiving or Possessing Stolen Property: Possessing, buying, selling, or controlling property stolen by another party is still considered a crime in California.
- Burglary: Any person who enters the property of another with the intent to commit theft is committing a felony burglary offense.
- Robbery: Using fear to forcefully steal personal property from an individual is a felony robbery charge.
- Identity Theft: Deliberately using someone else’s identity for financial advantage, increased credit, or other unlawful purposes is one of the most recent, fastest-growing crimes in California and the U.S.
Whether the theft crime is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, in California, the penalty is severe. Alleged theft charges from a retailer can result in additional civil liability. If you’ve been charged with one of these crimes in San Diego, it’s vital to secure competent and experienced legal defense to protect your reputation and future well-being.
Penalties for Theft Crimes in California
Penalties for theft charges are harsh in California. You can be incarcerated for up to three years for a felony charge. However, theft is another “wobbler,” where the prosecutor, based on evidence, has the power to charge the crime as a misdemeanor or a felony. Wobbler crimes were created to make the criminal justice system more flexible. In California, the degree of punishment is left up to the judge.
If ruled as a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty is a year in the county jail. However, grand theft charges can result in a harsher sentence. According to California law, theft of more than $950 is grand theft, which can be brought on by a single shoplifting incident where an expensive piece of jewelry or technology is stolen.
Potential consequences for any theft charges in California include:
- Time in jail or prison
- A criminal record
- Payment of restitution
- Suspension or revocation of a professional license
Having a criminal record can affect your ability to get a job or rent a home, and it can be detrimental to immigration application. However, with a robust defense built by a knowledgeable and skilled San Diego theft and shoplifting attorney, a theft charge does not have to ruin your life.
Statistics on Shoplifting
In any retail store, you’re likely to see various warnings posted to deter people from shoplifting. Signs that state how offenders will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law can be found posted in bathrooms, dressing rooms, entrances, and exits. Despite these warnings, shoplifting costs retailers billions of dollars each year. In fact, one out of eleven people in the United States commits the crime of shoplifting at least once in their lives, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP). Out of those charged over the past five years, about 75 percent are adults, with the rest being teens or children.
According to the NASP, one out of 48 people are apprehended for shoplifting. Only about half of those stopped are charged with a crime and legally prosecuted.
- Usually, shoplifting is committed on a whim and rarely pre-determined. Many people who go to the store don’t walk in to steal. Often, harsh economic circumstances drive a person to shoplift after they feel they have limited options left. Many people don’t steal for the thrill but do so because of an economic need. That is echoed by the fact that some of the most stolen items include baby formula, meat, and clothing.
Whether you shoplifted due to financial need, on an impulse, or you genuinely forgot to pay for an item, it can be said with confidence that having a knowledgeable San Diego shoplifting and theft lawyer on your side will be of great benefit.
What Are The Legal Defenses A San Diego Theft Attorney Might Use For Shoplifting Charges?
Cases involving shoplifting or theft charges are difficult and nuanced. Even an unjust accusation requires the assistance of a dedicated San Diego theft and shoplifting attorney. Dod fits that description and can assert a number of defenses, including:
- The lack of intent to steal
- The “stolen” property belonged to you
- False accusations
- Mistaken theft where the person consented to you taking the item
Many clients in the San Diego metro area have benefited from Dod’s skills. He can help you as well. If you’re facing theft or shoplifting charges in San Diego, do not hesitate to contact Dod Law for help.
What To Do If You’ve Been Accused Of Committing Theft Or Shoplifting Crimes In San Diego
If you’ve been charged with theft or shoplifting in San Diego, it is imperative to act swiftly and not be paralyzed with indecision hoping that the entire thing will go away on its own. Theft charges can lead to fines, incarceration, and a loss of reputation. If you face such criminal charges in the San Diego area, you need a skilled, reliable and experienced San Diego criminal defense lawyer who understands that good people can have a lapse in judgment or be in tough situations that lead to bad decisions.
Dod Law, APC, in Vista and Downtown San Diego is prepared to be your advocate. We realize how stressful a theft conviction can be, and we will be steadfast in our efforts to ensure your future and your rights are protected. Attorney Dod has a solid track record of success and is respected by his peers in the legal community. His experience helping clients has been recognized with various accolades, including The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers and a 10.0 “Superb” Avvo Rating. Our law firm provides free consultations, so contact a lawyer in San Diego to discuss your shoplifting or theft case at 619-814-5110 or call us in Vista at 760-814-6025.