You've just been arrested at South coast Plaza, at Macy's for shoplifting or Sephora. You walked out, loss prevention, grabbed you, and it took you in the room. They gave you a civil demand letter and they gave you a piece of paper for courts. The good news is that this does not have to be a conviction on your record. There are ways to get out of this and we're going to show you how and we're going to show you your options and how the system works.
My name's Hieu Vu I'm a criminal defense attorney here and Southern California. I've handled hundreds of cases at South coast Plaza. Sephora, Fry's familiar with the shoplifting charges. I've seen every kind of variation there is today.
Kohls - Santa Margarita
Costco - Fullerton
Macy's South Coast Plaza
Sephora - South Coast Plaza
Macy's - South Coast Plaza
Saks Fifth - Orange Outlets
Fry's Electronic - Fountain Valley
Nordstrom - South Coast Plaza
Sears - South Coast Plaza
There are many things that can still be done when you are caught shoplifting. This is despite camera evidence. Having a skilled attorney in this process can mean the difference between a conviction and a clean record.
The punishment for Petty Theft and Shoplifting differ in California. There are many courts out there with different guidelines and whether or not a court will hand out jail time is up to the court. Petty Theft and Shoplifting are two very serious crimes. Oftentimes these are done by people who make a quick decision. The long term effects are not considered when the act is made. A typical case starts at the mall. Store security or loss prevention patrols the stores. They either patrol them as undercover shoppers. Other times they patrol the stores via closed circuit cameras. Once a person is spotted taking stuff, lost prevention will head them off at the exit and stop them. This is where the case starts. The police will be called in and a report will be taken. The police officer will assign you to a courthouse with a citation to appear. You will sign this promise to appear.
To prove that you are guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:
1) You took possession of property owned by someoneelse
2) You took the property without the owner’s consent
3)When the you took the property you intended to deprive the owner of it permanently/ [or] to remove it from the owner’s [or owner’s agent’s] possession for so extended a period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property); and
4) You moved the property, even a small distance, and kept it for any period of time, however brief.
The long term consequences of Petty Theft and Shoplifting are very damning. These are serious charges of moral turpitude and that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals. Employers frown strongly on this. It is very difficult to find a job with a moral turpitude conviction on your record. Moral turpitude convictions outweigh other crimes when it comes to employment. For example, many employees will pick a person who has a DUI or assault with a deadly weapon over and even domestic violence over one with a petty theft charge.
When we negotiate out your case, we let them know that you have a clean criminal record. It's your first time a little bit about who you are. Now, you don't have to be a student to get this case dismissed. I've had plenty of doctors, I've had plenty of engineers and teachers and nurses who have been caught shoplifting.
You want to let them know that, Hey, you've learned your lesson and you will take classes. You're not going to come back here and do this again. Now let's say for instance if you can't get into some kind of diversion program, let's say you're in LA County, you will nt some kind of conditional plea. That's where you plead guilty upfront and then if you don't mess up within six months and then you come back to be sentenced, you can still get the case dismissed. So there are options and just be, even if you actually did it, there were ways around this.
Stop a Petty Theft and Shoplifting Conviction from hitting your record.
There are many ways defenses to Petty Theft and Shoplifting. One of the main ones is that you did not intend to steal the item. This defense comes into play when you have not left the building. For example, a person may choose to hold on to an item and walk to the exit. They will not make it to the exit however, they will get stopped. These are just one of the many defenses.
California Petty Theft and Shoplifting Laws (Penal Code 484 & 459.5 PC)
Petty Theft and Shoplifting is a fascinating area and even with cameras not everything will make it into court. The laws of evidence will keep things out and may help you. The concept of beyond a reasonable doubt will also be in your favor. What actually happened and what could be proved in court are two different things. It’s worth it to consider attacking the case head on especially in light of the penalties.
The state must show all the elements of a crime for the purpose of a Petty Theft and Shoplifting. Would you rather agree that in some instances, you lose your focus and awareness of your surroundings rather than go to jail for shoplifting? If it happens sometimes that you walk towards your fridge intending to get something from it then you totally went clueless what you were doing near the fridge, will it not be possible that same scenario will happen while shopping so you forgot to pay for your goods? This line of shoplifter defense is a bit difficult to prove. It requires an expert witness to collaborate the basis of the defense. In addition to this, there is also the addiction approach. If the right people come on board such as counselors there is room to move for the purpose of getting your charge dismissed. The rationale here is that the community will benefit more from you getting treatment then letting you go back to commit more offenses. It’s important to let your lawyer know this the first time you meet him or her and to mention on the questionnaire.
When you can prove that the item actually belongs to you, this is a strong defense against Petty Theft and Shoplifting. This is among the instances when keeping receipts, even for a cheap toy you bought to keep your toddler mum while you shop around.A mother and her two years old girl were stopped at the store exit. They were speculated for taking a new Barbie doll from the store’s shelf. Thanks God, the petit Barbie doll she (the two year old) was cuddling had visible scratches on the face and had a trace of strawberry ice cream in its clothes. Both of these collaborated that the doll was not taken off the display stand and was in fact the little girl’s doll.
The cashier forgot to punch it. While you were at the cashier’s booth, an item was not successfully scanned so it remained unpaid. Absolutely, there is no criminal intent in this case. In fact, you are going to trial for something you may not have even imagined to commit.There are other lines of shoplifter defense to convince the jury that you are not guilty beyond reasonable doubt. But, it all depends on the virtuosity of your lawyer if he could prove your defense.
So in the end you've got caught red handed and you admitted to stealing and you fessed up and you told them everything. It doesn't mean that you have to go down and suffer a conviction. There's so many ways around things and depending on the jurisdiction, make an appointment with me.
Or even let's say for instance, you can't afford an attorney talk with the public defenders. There are ways around us, and the last thing you want to do is get some kind of conviction, your record and having to answer for it when you apply for a job.
There are times when there is not much that can be done and all you can do is be in damage control. Let’s say for instance you were part of a ring of shoplifters and you guys were caught on camera with complete video evidence repeatedly shoplifting at Sephora in South Coast Plaza and the Loss Prevention knew all your techniques and knew the amount you always stole was under 200 and that you always had people come in afterwards with receipts to cash in the goods. You can be facing bigger charges however for one reason or another prosecuting agency missed the fact that you were on probation and gave you a good sentence. This may the time to wrap it up and go home. Every case is different. It’s better to know that there were many times you did do the shoplifting without getting caught and the prosecuting agency only knows about this time only.
There are Burdens of Proof the State must Show
Not all shoplifting incidents result in a conviction
Things may get trickier if the person shoplifting was caught with tools and the facts show that person had a sophisticated setup to come in and steal for the purpose Petty Theft and Shoplifting. If this was the case then you may be charged with burglary. Finally, if you were stopped by the Loss Prevention and you used force to resist and that force you used effectuated the escape which caused you to get caught then you are looking at a charge of robbery. You will be looking at more than a shoplifting citation and will probably need a bail bonds man for your numerous court cases. However, for most people that is not the case. The other charge that is often associated with Petty Theft & Shoplifting is the charge of grand theft. Grand theft is reserved for crimes where the amount stolen is a substantial amount. In addition, some grand thefts are felonies and involve jail time.
You may be at risk for 2nd degree burglary and grand theft.
Civil Problems from the Department Store
You will most likely get a civil demand later from the department store citing a civil code which entitles them to money. This is called restitution. They are legally entitled to it; however it is important that you consult your lawyer on how to handle these letters.
I get a lot of questions about shoplifting, civil demand letters. A lot of times people make a mistake. They go out to South coast Plaza, to do a little shop lifting and what happens is they get caught, they have to deal with the court process and then you get a letter in the mail asking you what he stole like $50 items. All of a sudden they asking for restitution and about $500 what the hell is this? You didn't steal $500. I think the letter is a whack. It came from a windmill and these mills have been generating letters. My personal opinion, I have my own ways to deal with it. These letters are way to make money and you really have to know what they are thinking, what's going through the head of these companies are sending out the letters, how much effort they're putting into each one. You have to know whether or not they will call you on not paying the letters. Also, an important thing to remember is even though you paid the letters, it doesn't mean that the case will go away.
Petty Theft and Shoplifting Laws may differ from state to state. I get clients who are accused for Costa Mesa Shoplifting. For one reason or another, clients love to shoplift at department stores. Clients will questions about things outside the criminal justice system once they are caught. One of these questions is whether they should pay the demand letter which is sent to them as a result of their Shoplifting case. The consensus in the criminal defense community is to not pay them. These are letters are generated in bulk to take advantage of the Shoplifting Laws. In addition to this, they may follow up with their threat, but they will be unable to make a profit. These are not profitable lawsuits for them. They generate these letters because a lot of people pay them. A lot of people do not know better and pay these. They say hindsight is 20/20.
There have been offices that are willing to go as far as putting a negative credit mark on a person’s report, but this is probably illegal. Furthermore, another reason to consider not paying this is that the letters are not civil compromises. Paying these letters does not make the criminal charges go away. The only thing these things go away is your nervousness and your money. At the end of the day you still have to deal with the Shoplifting Laws and the criminal charges involved with your Costa Mesa Shoplifting case.
Paying the letter will not make the case go away. It’s a quick fix for your anxiety and the like most quick fixes your shoplifting case will not disappear these letters regenerated in bulk. The companies who generate these letters make money off the people who are scared and pay them. These letters are not worth the paper they are printed on.
Attorneys who represent department stores will back down when they see a person has representation.
Stay Away Order from the place
You will be ordered to stay away from the store and your information will be put into a database which will prevent you from going back to the store.
You will also get a criminal record, however let’s say this happens, you can still get your case expunged later. However, until then you will have a misdemeanor on your record.
Shoplifting laws are the same; however the consequences are different depending on which court you are at. Despite the name petty theft, having a history of petty theft is very detrimental to your future. Employers are very reluctant to hire anyone with a criminal record. This is even more so with a person with a theft crime in their background. You simply need to ask yourself, do you want someone with a theft background working for you?
Keep your record clean with an award winning attorney.
Possible Jail Time
In some circumstances you can be exposed to jail time.
Shoplifting Laws will differ from county to county. Some counties may not let a person do diversion. The best way to explain this is with an analogy. A diversion is when a person agrees to enter a plea of guilty to a charge on paper. The court will take this into account on a charge on Shoplifting and put it into his back pocket and not enter the judgment. The court will make the person agree to not having any further law enforcement contact for a period of time. If this happens then the court reopens the case and tear up the charge. The good thing about this is that the charges are never entered therefore it is never in the system. As a result, when the day comes to tear up this paper, it will be like the charge never happened. However this works as a double edge sword as well. If a person enters a guilty plea to the charge and messes up then the plea will be used against him.
We can use your spotless record as a reason to get you into a diversion program.
For example, John enters a guilty plea and gets put on diversion then he goes out to Macy’s at South Coast Plaza and steals some clothes and gets caught then this guilty plea will be sued against him. There will not be much for the charging agency to do because the plea was already entered.
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