Even though its effects are not as great as crimes like grand theft auto, shoplifting is a serious crime. Even though a single petty theft probably won’t make a business fold, shoplifting cuts into a retailer’s profits and a store with a serious shoplifting problem can easily go out of business. For this reason, law enforcement and the courts take shoplifting very seriously.
In the State of California, along with many other states, store employees and managers are granted certain powers of arrest with suspected shoplifters. They are able to arrest and temporarily detain suspected shoplifters. In most jurisdictions store owners are able to initiate criminal arrests, and often the police will be brought in to take custody.
Due to the problems shoplifting can cause, retailers have taken steps to increase their store security and deter shoplifters. These include closed-circuit TV systems, which can be a powerful source of evidence in prosecuting shoplifters. Many stores also use “electronic article surveillance” systems. You may be familiar with these: many retailers attach tags to their merchandise that are deactivated on purchase. If these are not deactivated, they trigger alarms when the merchandise passes through sensors at the door.
Some stores employ uniformed guards, sometimes carrying weapons. In place of or in addition to guards, many stores also employ loss prevention personnel, whose job is to appear like regular shoppers while simultaneously looking for possible signs of shoplifting. Usually this technique is limited to larger retailers, in part because such systems are complex, and there are liability risks associated with non-uniformed personnel.
The legal consequences of shoplifting can depend on the item and the circumstances. Many petty thefts are only classified as misdemeanors and many only be punished with probation or community service for first-time offenders. Larger thefts and repeat offenders can result in more serious legal punishment, including jail time.
A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you defend yourself from accusations of shoplifting. In many situations, an attorney can help you prove your innocence or reduce the severity of the charges and / or punishment. An experienced San Jose criminal lawyer from the law office of Daniel Jensen, P.C. can help you. To learn more, contact us today at (408) 296-4100.