Retail Theft

author by Dave Clark on Apr. 05, 2022

Criminal Misdemeanor Criminal 

Summary: Some basics of retail theft.

Retail theft, sometimes referred to as shoplifting, is most often charged as a Class B Misdemeanor because the value of the property stolen is most often less than $500.00. However, a third Retail Theft charge can be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor if you have been twice before been convicted of a Class B retail theft if each prior offense was committed within 10 years before the date of the current conviction or the date of the offense upon which the current conviction is based. 

A first offense retail theft charge can also be charged as a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the stolen property is higher than $500.00 but less than $1,500.00, or as a third-degree felony, the value of the stolen property is greater than $1,500.00 but less than $5,000.00. The value of the item is an essential element of the prosecution's case and must be established and proven by the state. As part of its case, the prosecution must also prove that you knowingly and intentionally stole the item. For this reason, theft is sometimes referred to as a specific intent crime. Negligence, misunderstanding, or failing to pay attention can sometimes be a defense to a charge of theft. 

Many retail establishments have security cameras on their premises. In order to use the recordings of these cameras, the prosecution must, of course, obtain these recordings from the store or the establishment. To be used as evidence in court against you, the recording must be an accurate recording of the episode from which you’ve been charged, and the recording obviously cannot have become lost, recorded over, or have been aimed in the wrong direction. If any security recording exists, the defense is entitled to a copy of it. If the recording has been lost or destroyed, this can sometimes be part of the basis for a motion to dismiss the case. 

Any live witnesses that the prosecution intends to testify at trial must be present in court, at the trial, and must be able to positively identify you as the individual that stole the items. If the witnesses are uncertain about this identification or simply don’t remember, you can ask the court to dismiss the charge, as identification is one of the essential elements of the prosecution’s case, and must, with all the other elements of the charge, be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.


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