Shoplifting is one of the most common forms of theft and involves stealing goods in an open retail establishment. Shoplifters typically conceal items in pockets, under clothes, or in bags. The crime of shoplifting generally falls under the legal classification of larceny. California passed Proposition 47 in 2014, reducing penalties for many crimes, including shoplifting. Although California doesn’t have a specific statute for shoplifting, the crime is covered in its general theft statutes.
The laws, California Penal Code Section 484-490, distinguish between petty theft and grand theft depending on the value of the property involved. Stealing of property whose value is above $950 would constitute grand theft. The value of the stolen item is determined by its reasonable and fair market value.
Grand theft can be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in county jail or a felony punishable by up to 3 years in state prison.
Petty theft can be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. If the value of the stolen item is $50 or less, the offense is punishable only by a fine of up to $250.
Children under 14 cannot be held criminally liable for shoplifting.
Possible defenses for a shoplifting charge include mental incapacity, lack of criminal intent, duress and consent of owner.