Nowadays, due in large part to a difficult economy and high unemployment, crimes of theft are on the rise. One of the most prevalent forms of theft is called shoplifting. Shoplifting is a nickname for the criminal charge of petty theft which is codified by California Penal Code section 484. The crime requires that the accused remove a piece of property or goods with the intent of permanently depriving the owner of the item. Normally, a person is arrested by the store’s security personnel and are detained until the local police or law enforcement arrive to investigate, and possibly arrest the alleged perpetrator.
The consequences of a conviction for petty theft or shoplifting can be severe and lifelong. For example, because the crime is priorable, meaning that a subsequent offense can be charged as a felony, the conviction will stay on a person’s criminal record permanently and cannot be expunged for this reason. Another consequence that ordinarily flows when a person is adjudicated guilty of a shoplifting in Court is the imposition of a stay away order that prevents the individual from ever going back into the store where the act occurred. This can be particularly inconvenient when the Judge orders that you not set foot back in the mall or department store where you were arrested for example.
A Criminal Defense Lawyer who focuses on petty theft and shoplifting should be retained immediately after the arrest. The reason an attorney is essential is due to the fact that many times informal resolutions can be reached with the alleged victim and no charges may be filed. Lawyers specializing in these types of criminal cases can also meet early with the prosecutor to try and avoid formal charges by employing various legal techniques such as a dismissal for civil compromise or some type of diversion intended to keep the offense from going on a person’s permanent record.
A local Torrance CA Shoplifting Lawyer , in many instances, negotiate lesser charges, dismissals upon the completion of counseling, and other alternative dispositions that can eliminate or minimize the impact the offense of shoplifting can have on someone’s criminal record, their immigration status and their employment record. What many people do not realize is that a conviction for shoplifting can be a terrible black mark on a person’s permanent record due to the fact it is considered a crime of moral turpitude. “Moral Turpitude” is a class of criminal offenses that involve acts of dishonesty. As such, even though shoplifting is generally only a misdemeanor it can be treated much more harshly than many felony offenses.
One of the many positive benefits of engaging the services of a local shoplifting defense attorney is that he can get creative in obtaining relief from the negative aspects that the crime can create. A Lawyer can help humanize their client in the eyes of the County District Attorney. Many motivations exist that cause an individual to shoplift. For example, a variety of psychological conditions may be at the heart of why someone may commit an act of theft. A litany of prescription drugs and medications may contribute to the commission of acts of perceived thievery and a legal counselor can assist in presenting these mitigating facts to law enforcement, the Court and District Attorney.
Because the error in judgement of shoplifting requires the element of intent, when a person’s mental state is impaired due to medication or illness it may offer a legitimate defense to overcome a potential conviction. The often draconian consequences of shop lifting and other petty theft misdemeanors really require an aggressive approach to avoiding the arrest from becoming a conviction.