Shoplifting is a common crime that happens quite often in the United States. Oftentimes, people are put into a position where they think that shoplifting will solve a problem, but it often leads to more serious issues including getting arrested and facing a charge. If you or someone that you know has been arrested for shoplifting, it is important to understand how shoplifting could be charged. I, Zachary Holbrook, am an experienced criminal defense attorney and if you have found yourself in a situation like the one above, I would be happy to help you out by taking a look at your case.
What Is Shoplifting?
The first question that must be asked and answered is what constitutes shoplifting in the first place. Shoplifting is an act of theft and may also be referred to as petty theft. Shoplifting is completed by entering a retail store and trying to steal an item (or items) by concealing it on one’s person and leaving the store without paying for it.
While shoplifting typically involves leaving the store and taking the item without paying, shoplifting can also include cases where a person intended to steal something from the store and took some sort of action to help them steal it. Examples of this could include:
- Hiding an item on your person or with your personal items (in a purse or bag, etc.)
- Taking merchandise out of a package and concealing it with other store items
- Changing price tags
- Removing security tags
There are not certain groups of people that are specifically predisposed to shoplift, in fact there are people from all sorts of backgrounds that shoplift, which is why it is so common. Although there are frequent occurrences of theft in stores, the consequences for this crime can be quite severe. Which brings us to the question of whether shoplifting is a felony.
Is Shoplifting A Felony?
The answer to the question of, “Is shoplifting a felony?” is a complicated one. Shoplifting convictions are typically serious. Depending on the circumstances and cost of the property that was stolen, shoplifting may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. It also depends on the state as to when the crime would be considered a misdemeanor vs. a felony. In some states, an individual may only be charged with an infraction. An infraction is the least serious of the three potential charges.
Oftentimes, shoplifting cases involve property theft of $500 or less, which would typically result in a misdemeanor charge. The reason why theft from a store typically only results in a misdemeanor is because it is difficult to shoplift big-ticket items. If a person shoplifts, it is also serious for their reputation. Shoplifting is a “crime of dishonesty” meaning that it is done directly to cheat for personal gain. Because it is a crime of dishonesty, shoplifting will typically go directly onto one’s record and will show up on all background checks.
When Shoplifting Becomes A Felony In Utah
In Utah, shoplifting becomes a felony depending on the cost of property that was stolen and sometimes what was stolen. If the value of the property that was stolen meets or surpasses $5,000, if the property is a gun or a motorized vehicle, or if the shoplifter was armed, then the shoplifting act will be classified as a second degree felony in Utah.
Shoplifting becomes a third degree felony in Utah if the value of the stolen property is anywhere from $1500 to $5000 or if the person who has committed the crime has been convicted of shoplifting before in the past 10 years.
What To Do If You Have Been Charged With Shoplifting
If you have been charged with shoplifting, you will need to speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. I, Zachary Holbrook, take accusations of shoplifting very seriously. My goal as your attorney would be to gather information to help prove your innocence, which will allow you to move on with your life. With legal representation from me, you can reduce your charges, sentencing, or get the charges against you dropped entirely. For more information about my legal services or to discuss potential representation, feel free to reach out to my firm today.