Is Shoplifting a Felony?

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Is Shoplifting a Felony?

Shoplifting is intentionally taking merchandise from a store or retail shop without permission and paying for items. The intent must involve permanently depriving the business of its merchandise. A person can be charged with felony shoplifting. Whether a shoplifting charge is a form of felony theft depends on state law. A shoplifting charge may be listed under petty theft or another type of larceny crime.

When Can I Be Charged with Felony Shoplifting?

States typically decide if shoplifting is a felony according to merchandise value. Stolen property must exceed a minimum price. The specific value depends on state law. Generally, a felony shoplifting charge varies from $500 to $1,000.

An individual charged with taking $100 of merchandise will be charged with misdemeanor shoplifting. Another person charged with take $501 worth of merchandise will be charged with felony shoplifting. 

Does a Shoplifting Felony Depend on What Merchandise Was Taken?

Yes. This is referred to as a categorical felony. The value of the merchandise that was taken does not matter when it includes:

Will My Current Shoplifting Charge Become a Felony If I Have Priors?

Yes. In some states, the types of items taken and value of the stolen property do no matter if a person has prior criminal history. For example, some states increase a shoplifting charge to a felony if he has been convicted of two or more theft offenses.

Do Some States Have Degrees of Shoplifting Felonies?

Yes. This type of felony is similar to the merchandise value. Many states decide whether a shoplifting charge is a felony based on the amount of merchandise taken. The felony degrees may range from one to five. The highest felony degree is usually the most serious.

Should I Contact an Attorney about My Shoplifting Charge?

Yes. In certain situations, a criminal attorney can negotiate with a prosecutor to have the shoplifting charge reduced to a misdemeanor or dismissed. An attorney will also advise you of your legal rights and available defenses.

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Last Modified: 12-01-2016 09:44 PM PST

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