A Common Crime: Shoplifting

Shoplifting is one of the most common crimes prosecuted in the court system.  This does not mean, however, that a shoplifting charge can be laughed off or ignored.  If you are charged with shoplifting, you are in danger of penalties including jail time, fines and other consequences.  Alex Lane, a criminal defense attorney, may be able to represent you in a shoplifting case and help you minimize the consequences of a charge.

What Is Shoplifting?

Shoplifting is the general term applied to several different crimes.  Shoplifting can also be cause for a civil lawsuit by a merchant to recover damages from an alleged thief.

The term "shoplifting" covers several actions, including:

  • Removing goods from a store without paying the purchase price
  • Altering or removing a price tag with the intent of defrauding the merchant
  • Concealing merchandise with the intent of depriving the merchant
  • Using a container to facilitate the removal of an item from a store
  • Removing merchandise from a store with the intent to resell or trade it

Merchants are allowed to detain individuals in a "reasonable manner" if they suspect shoplifting.

What Are The Penalties for Shoplifting?

The penalty for shoplifting depends in large part on the value of the merchandise allegedly stolen.  The following table shows the various shoplifting charges and their penalties:

Shoplifting Charge/Type Possible Penalty
Property valued less than $1,000 excluding firearms Class 1 misdemeanor-Six months in prison, three years of probation, $2,500 fine
Property valued $1,000 to $2,000 or a firearm Class 6 felony-Six months to 1.5 years prison, three years of probation, $150,000 fine
Property valued at more than $2,000, shoplifting as part of a continuing criminal episode, shoplifting to promote or assist a gang or syndicate Class 5 felony-Nine months to two years of prison, three years of probation, $150,000 fine
Use of a device to facilitate shoplifting Class 4 felony-1.5 to three years of prison, three years of probation, $150,000 fine
Shoplifting after two or more burglary convictions within five years Class 4 felony-1.5 to three years of prison, three years of probation, $150,000 fine

Victims of shoplifting can also sue adults or the parents of minors in civil court for the cost of the stolen goods plus up to $250 in additional compensation.

While shoplifting can have serious consequences, a criminal attorney like Alex Lane may be able to help those who are charged with this crime avoid or minimize some of the penalties.

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