Shoplifting may be one of the most common crimes committed in Alabama, but that does not mean it is considered a minor offense. Referred to in criminal statutes as theft of property, shoplifting can be treated as a felony offense depending on the value of the merchandise taken. Even at a misdemeanor level, those convicted may face up to a year of imprisonment and thousands of dollars in fines.
Moreover, the merchant from whom an alleged shoplifter took merchandise could file a civil lawsuit to recover the value of the stolen property plus extra costs. If you are facing a shoplifting or theft charge, seek the services of an Alabama shoplifting lawyer who is thoroughly familiar with theft laws and the most effective potential strategies for fighting these charges. Call an experienced theft attorney today to schedule a consultation.Misdemeanor Charges
The severity of a shoplifting charge depends on the value of the property involved. Alabama has four statutes governing theft of property offenses, and only one of the four is treated as a misdemeanor. Theft of property in the fourth-degree, as defined in Code of Alabama §13A-8-5, is the taking of property worth no more than $500 with the intent to deprive the owner of that property. Classified as a class A misdemeanor offense, fourth-degree theft is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $6,000.Felony Shoplifting Offenses
Theft of property in the first, second or third-degree are all felony offenses. Third-degree property theft occurs when an individual steals property worth between $500 and $1,500. This offense is considered a class D felony under Alabama Code §13A-8-4.1.
When the property stolen is worth between $1,500 and $2,500, the crime escalates to theft of property in the second-degree, a class C felony. While this may sound like a great deal of property, someone could easily commit second-degree shoplifting by taking only one or two items, given the price of some designer clothing and handbags.
In addition, the theft of certain types of property is treated as theft in the second-degree even if the value is less than $1,500. As mentioned in Alabama Code §13A-8-4, this property includes firearms, controlled substances, and livestock. Finally, as an Alabama shoplifting attorney might explain, shoplifting any property worth more than $2,500 is treated as first-degree theft which is a class B felony.Penalties for Felony Shoplifting
In addition to civil liability for the value of the property taken, those convicted of felony shoplifting offenses in Alabama face the potential for lengthy terms of imprisonment and thousands of dollars in fines. The laws establishing sentencing guidelines for such crimes include a minimum sentence for every level of a felony, even the most minor.Those convicted of a class D felony, such as theft in the third degree, face a sentence from one to five years in length. Theft in the second degree, as a class C felony, is punishable by a sentence of one and 10 years in length. Finally, those found to have committed theft in the first degree, a class B felony, may face up to 20 years in prison. Fines for felony shoplifting offenses may reach $7,500 for theft in the third degree, $15,000 for theft in the second degree, and $30,000 for theft in the first-degree. This is why it is essential for someone who is facing charges to contact a shoplifting attorney in Alabama who knows how to build a viable defense. Working with an Alabama Shoplifting Attorney Even a first-time offender may face life-changing penalties as the result of a shoplifting charge. However, there are certain defense strategies that can sometimes be leveraged to bring about the best possible outcome in your shoplifting case. Call now to find out how an experienced Alabama shoplifting lawyer could help you protect your rights and your future.