Definition and Aspects of Shoplifting:
Under California Penal Code 459.5 (PC 459.5), the act of entering a business with the intent of taking merchandise without paying for it is against the law. Shoplifting is a misdemeanor offense, punishable with jail time and fines. For the purposes of this statute, Shoplifting is defined as taking merchandise under the value of $950.
To be convicted of California Penal Code 459.5 (PC 459.5), the Prosecution must prove the following:
- The setting was in a ‘commercial establishment’
- The Defendant entered the premises during business hours
- The Defendant intended to take goods with the value of $950 or less without paying for it
A ‘commercial establishment’ refers to a business and not personal property. California Penal Code 459.5 (PC 459.5) does not refer to stealing from someone’s house. This statute is for places of business where goods or services are exchanged for money.
Additionally, Shoplifting refers to the intention of stealing. The Defendant would not actually have to succeed in taking property to be charged with California Penal Code 459.5 (PC 459.5). If the Defendant is caught in the act while inside the establishment, he/she could be charged.
Criminal Offenses Related to Shoplifting:
Similar or related offenses to California Penal Code 459.5 (PC 459.5), Shoplifting:
- Burglary – California Penal Code 459 (PC 459)
- Petty Theft – California Penal Code 484 (PC 484)
- Grand Theft – California Penal Code 487 (PC 487)
Example of Shoplifting:
A woman walks into a clothing store and finds a purse that suits her style perfectly. After looking at the price tag, though, she decides to slip it under her coat instead of paying for it. As she places it under her arm, a security guard walks up to her. Despite the woman not walking out of the store, she had the intention of taking the bag without paying. Under California Penal Code 459.5 (PC 459.5), she could be charged with Shoplifting.
Defenses to Shoplifting:
Since the actual completion of the act is not required for this statute, one of the hardest aspects to prove is intent. If the Defendant did not have the intention of stealing the item, but was either just looking, left it in his/her cart by accident, or meant to pay for it, it does not fall under this statute, and the Defendant could be cleared of violating California Penal Code 459.5 (PC 459.5).
Another requirement of this statute is to have the intent to steal when entering the store. If the Defendant entered the store and later on decided to shoplift, it would not fall under California Penal Code 459.5 (PC 459.5). However, in this scenario, a person would still most likely be charged with petty theft.
If the Defendant, in fact, did shoplift or had the proven intention, there are many avenues with this statute. Most often, a Judge would agree to an informal diversion. In this case, the Defendant would plead guilty initially and agree to complete a series of actions to make up for the loss on the business, such as community service. If the Defendant completes the agreed-upon punishment in time and brings in proof, his/her record would remain clean, and the charges would be dismissed.
In certain cases, a Defendant may agree to repay the establishment by performing services. In this scenario, the cost of loss would be covered by the services rendered of the Defendant, and the business would not seek Prosecution.
Consequences and Penalty for Shoplifting:
California Penal Code 459.5 (PC 459.5) is a misdemeanor offense. Shoplifting is punishable with up to $1,000 fines and up to six months in jail. In many cases, merchants will also make a civil demand for payments.
This offense can generally be expunged if handled by an experienced defense attorney. If the Defendant meets probation, jail, or fine requirements, his/her record could be wiped of this offense.
Shoplifting, under California Penal Code 459.5 (PC 459.5), is a misdemeanor that can result in jail time, fines, and probation. It is essential that if you or someone you know is charged with Shoplifting, you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
For an experienced attorney on your side, Action Lavitch from Action Defense Lawyers is available 24/7 at (747) DEFEND U or (747) 333-3638. With a proven track record of theft and shoplifting related charges and speaking both English and Spanish, Action Lavitch and the team from Action Defense Lawyers provide skilled legal representation and professional advice. Having an above 90% success rate for clients, Action Defense Lawyers is the go-to for those charged with California Penal Code Section 459.5 (PC 459.5), Shoplifting. Book a free consultation today.