Orange County Shoplifting Defense Attorneys
At Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, we understand people have their reasons for shoplifting. Either the opportunity presents itself or, more times than not, people are in a desperate situation and need to take desperate measures. In other situations, individuals find themselves being arrested for shoplifting as a result of being with a friend who allegedly committed the crime.
Whatever the case may be, most people accused of shoplifting usually don't have a criminal record, but merely made a mistake. In fact, most people accused of shoplifting are normal members of society. However, that one misstep of a good person can have a negative effect on them for the rest of their life. For example, when applying for a new job, many potential employers perform a background check and information regarding your shoplifting arrest can appear. Subsequently, most employers will deny employment to you because they assume you are dishonest and will likely steal from their company.
If you or someone you love has been accused of shoplifting, then you should reach out to Law Office of Michael L. Guisti. Every individual deserves the chance to defend themselves against their charges, but the only way you can do that successfully is with the legal aid and expertise of a knowledgeable OC shoplifting defense attorney. To learn how our lead attorney can defend you in an Orange County court, contact our office at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999.
The first approach our legal team takes is scrutinizing the OC District Attorney to determine if they have enough evidence to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and if they don't, more times than not, the charge is either reduced or dismissed. But each theft crime is different, and to begin building your defense, you will first need to understand how these charges lead to a conviction.
According to California Penal Code 495.5 PC, for the prosecution to successfully convict you of shoplifting, they must demonstrate that you:
- Entered a business during regular business hours;
- With the intent of stealing merchandise or property.
Whether or not you are charged with petty or grand theft can vary depending on the value of the product you allegedly stole. For example, petty theft can only be charged if the products or merchandise in total were worth $950 or less, while grand theft is charged for crimes involving $950 or more. It is important to note that shoplifting is an intent crime, meaning the prosecution only has to prove that you intended to commit steal merchandise, not that you were successful in doing so. This can make the case rather complex, but also allows your attorney to build a strong argument against these charges.
In cases where the evidence is overwhelming, such as having uninterrupted video footage of you taking an item outside a store, we can negotiate an arrangement with the Orange County District Attorney to get the shoplifting charges reduced or dismissed. We can also explore your options for seeking relief through Proposition 47.
If you have no criminal record and made a bad judgment call, we usually work out a deal where you agree to repay the store, perform community service, and enter into shoplifting counseling, which in return, the Orange County District Attorney drops the charges and you have a clean record.
"I was caught shoplifting at the South Coast Plaza and police were charging me with grand theft and commercial burglary...Mr. Guisti saw to it my charges were reduced and that I just pay a small fine."
You may wonder why, for example, you're being charged with grand theft for allegedly shoplifting a single piece of clothing and why the person next to you is being charged with petty theft for allegedly shoplifting dozens upon dozens of pieces of clothing. This ultimately comes down to the amount of property stolen from the business and its total value, which can influence whether or not you face misdemeanor or felony charges. Misdemeanor charges are often significantly lighter in terms of penalties than felonies and are eligible for expungements down the line. There are several other factors that can determine what type of charges you are facing, such as whether force was involved or if you had planned on committing a crime before entering the business.
An accusation of shoplifting can lead to one of the following charges in California:
- Petty Theft- PC 484 and PC 488 state petty theft is the stealing of property valued up to $950. If you've shoplifted several clothing items that value $930, you can be facing petty theft charges. Petty theft is charged as a misdemeanor; however, per PC 666, a second petty theft offense can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor.
- Grand Theft- Under Penal Code (PC) 487, grand theft is stealing property valued at more than $950. For example, if you shoplifted one single piece of clothing from an exclusive high-end store valued at $995, according to PC 487, you could be charged with grand theft. It is a "wobbler" crime, which means you can be facing either misdemeanor or felony charges.
- Burglary- Depending on your case, it's possible the Orange County District Attorney could charge you with burglary. Burglary is planning to enter a store or home with the intent to commit a felony. This is a serious charge with severe consequences, but proving burglary is difficult, as most shoplifters claim they acted on an impulse, rather than using any sort of planning.
- Robbery- Robbery is only committed if you use violence, force, or threats to take property and is a strike under California's Three Strikes Laws. If you went into a store, took an item, and walked out, you cannot be charged with robbery, since there was no use of violence, force, or threats. However, the state of California does have charges for Estes Robbery, which can be filed if you did use force to escape a security guard or employee while shoplifting. For example, if you shoved a guard as they attempted to apprehend you, that would elevate this crime to Estes Robbery.
Maybe you've looked around online and think you could take care of your shoplifting problem by yourself by simply explaining to the Orange County District Attorney or judge your situation and hope for forgiveness. Without any sort of legal experience, however, it's nearly impossible to take care of this problem by yourself and you could potentially create more issues. When you are facing shoplifting charges, it is imperative you hire an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer who understands the laws and court system.
With the aid of our lead attorney, we may able to build a strong defense that either has your charges reduced in a plea bargain or dropped in a trial. Possible defenses against shoplifting charges:
- You were falsely accused, or it was a case of mistaken identity
- You had no intention of stealing any merchandise when you entered the store
- It was a misunderstanding, and you accidentally placed merchandise in your pockets, purse, or bag
- There is insufficient evidence to prove that you stole or intended to steal property
We understand this is a difficult time for you, but we assure you the team at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti can handle your shoplifting case. We aim to reduce your criminal charges or even eliminate your charges altogether, when possible. Don't attempt to represent yourself. Give us a call at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999 so we can give you the top-quality legal advice you deserve.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.