Got caught shoplifting, nervous, and frightened of an upcoming trial?
At Judith Samson Attorney At Law, we would first like to inform you that Criminal Defense Attorney Judith Samson provides free, confidential consultations 24/7! She can be contacted at (612) 333-8001 or online here.
Whether you are arrested and looking up an attorney on your phone before processing, have a detained family member, or need immediate legal advice on your own upcoming case, please remember to consult her before panicking.
Otherwise, continue reading as there are several important considerations about shoplifting and petty theft charges. Minnesota has specific state laws and charges for the offenses. There’s also a psychological aspect to understanding why people shoplift.
People are more likely to seek legal help when they need it if they are not embarrassed. Sadly, this sense of shame prevents many from obtaining advice from a lawyer. Many people, then, fail to realize how badly they need legal representation. We would love to offset this phenomenon, stop you from being overcharged, or win the case.
Why People Shoplift But Deserve Lawyers
There are many instances of shoplifting in America. It’s even considered one of the most common crimes. The truth is that many people get away with it. The true damage is often known to companies, but not the public. It is expensive for many people to engage in shoplifting while retail workers are otherwise distracted. As a result, companies hired loss prevention teams whose job it is to stop shoplifting.
In places where teenagers and communities face low wages, high unemployment, ample time to spend at the mall, and a culture of peer pressure promoting unaffordable consumer goods and trends, shoplifting thrives. If you’re caught shoplifting in Minnesota, it is common; but, the charges will often be harsh in the sense that they involve fees and jail time.
Doing jail time often makes it more difficult to pay fines. It also makes it more challenging to find work in the future. A good lawyer will explain how to seek expungement in the future.
If you are not a teenager, plenty of adults also develop a habit of shoplifting that can stem from a wide variety of causes. Again, often the root cause can be unaffordable goods, stagnant jobs, or an inability to survive on a limited income. Other people can find themselves becoming addicted to the rush of shoplifting or petty theft, even those with financial means. There are plenty of celebrities that have been caught shoplifting.
Shoplifting or petty theft, such as getting caught stealing a lawn sign in a youthful prank and being prosecuted by the state or a disappointed neighbor, has no real, typical offender. According to a recent reporter’s story, shoplifting is “not specific to… gender… Nor is it applicable to any particular age group. Underage people who shoplift [comprise] around 25%.” So, shoplifters come in all shapes, sizes, and demographics in life.
The key is to find legal representation to not make one’s problems worse. When shoplifting has become an addiction or a means of survival for an individual, poverty and psychological issues are not your fault. The first step to getting better can be speaking with a competent attorney.
Minnesota Statutes and Laws
The 2020 state laws are sometimes subject to change based on how the legal system is always changing. Here’s what compromises the 2019 laws about shoplifting and theft. Interestingly enough, Minnesota law does not have a specific statute for shoplifting. That simply means that you would be charged under 609.52 Theft, which can be found on the state’s website here.
As defined by Minnesota law in that specific statue, “property” entails “all forms of tangible property, whether real or personal, without limitation including documents of value, electricity, gas, water, corpses, domestic animals, dogs, pets, fowl, and heat supplied by pipe or conduit by municipalities or public utility companies and articles.” When a person shoplifts, they are typically stealing tangible property (clothing, footwear, etc.) form a retailer.
Based upon that statute, shoplifting falls under “Acts constituting theft,” which is:
- [to] intentionally and without claim of right takes, uses, transfers, conceals or retains possession of movable property of another without the other’s consent and with intent to deprive the owner permanently of possession of the property
The punishment for theft is typically in proportion to “the retail market value [of] at the time of the theft, or if the retail market value cannot be ascertained” and situations, such as whether one has committed the offense before.
What kind of time am I looking at?
Well, shoplifting charges tend to be difficult to beat since there’s usually video footage. It’s also a fight against a company, whereas sometimes individuals who work for big retailers would otherwise let shoplifters go. As noted before, it depends upon the value of the property stolen and usually results in jail and/ or a fine. A good defense attorney will try to argue down the charges.
The worst-case scenario for a shoplifting charges over $35,000, is (roughly):
- Maximum imprisonment of 20 years and/ or repayment of a $100,000 fine
- Stealing a gun while in the commission of additional crime[s] and stealing more than $35,000 worth of goods is the same punishment
- Charges and maximum penalties are decided by state law
- Individual prosecutorial authority and charges also influence the severity
Possible sentences for goods worth less than $35,000:
- Maximum sentence of 10 years and/ or $20,000 fine
- Special conditions also subject to maximum imprisonment is stealing trade secrets, theft of explosives, and controlled substances (pharmaceuticals)
- Applies to thefts between $5,000-$35,000
More common charges and sentences:
- Items worth $1,000-$5,000 is a $10,000 and 5 years in prison
- Items valued between $500-$1,000 is a fine of $3,000 and one year in jail
- Items less than $500 is still a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail
It’s important to contact a defense lawyer in these cases, no matter the charge. Judges can be intimidating and the process is psychologically upsetting. Contact us for advice today!
Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.