Covington County Shoplifting Lawyer
While shoplifting is a common crime committed by individuals, especially juveniles, it is not a petty matter under Alabama law. If the property involved is of sufficient value, you could be looking at a felony charge and up to ten years in jail. However, even a misdemeanor charge can have serious consequences and create a black mark on your criminal history.
Under the circumstances, you would be wise to consult with a Covington County shoplifting lawyer for advice and guidance on how to best handle the allegations against you. Reach out to a dedicated criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Legal Definition of Shoplifting
Shoplifting offenses under Alabama law fall under the criminal offense of theft, which means that there is no separate criminal offense for shoplifting. There are three different classifications for theft offenses, all of which are based upon the value of the products that individuals are accused of stealing. These classifications include:
- Third-degree theft – property valued under $500
- Second-degree theft – property valued between $500 and $2,500
- First-degree theft property valued at $2,500 and greater
As the shoplifting of even a few dollars’ worth of merchandise is charged as third-degree theft, the potential penalties for a shoplifting conviction can be harsh. Because these charges can be so serious, an individual accused of shoplifting could benefit by seeking the services of an experienced lawyer.
Alabama Criminal Code § 13A-8-2 defines theft generally as occurring when individuals knowingly commit one of the following actions:
- Obtaining or exerting unauthorized control over others’ property, with the intent to deprive them of their property
- Obtaining control over others’ property by deception, with the intent to deprive them of their property
- Obtaining or exerting control over property that was explicitly represented as being stolen and is in the custody of a law enforcement agency
- Obtaining or exerting unauthorized control over donated property left on the property of a charitable organization
Penalties for Offenses in Covington County
Third-degree theft is a Class A misdemeanor under Alabama law. Individuals who are convicted of a Class A misdemeanor can receive a jail sentence of no more than one year and a fine of up to $6,000. Second-degree theft is a Class C felony, which carries a sentence of incarceration ranging between one and 10 years and a fine of up to $15,000. First-degree theft is a Class B felony. Conviction for a Class B felony can result in imprisonment of between two and 20 years, and a fine of up to $30,000.
Individuals who are convicted of shoplifting or theft can be civilly liable for the value of the merchandise that was allegedly stolen, plus attorneys’ fees and court costs. If the individuals are minors under the age of 18, their parents can be civilly liable for the costs of the merchandise, as well as attorneys’ fees and court costs.
Shoplifting charges may seem petty, but they can have an enormous impact on an accused individual’s future. Thankfully, individuals have a chance to beat these charges with a Covington County shoplifting lawyer by their side.
Statute of Limitations for Shoplifting
The statute of limitations for prosecution of a theft offense involving deception is five years. However, the five-year statute of limitation does not begin to run in this case until the discovery of the facts that constituted the deception.
Let a Covington County Shoplifting Attorney Help
Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, you could face high fines and incarceration. These consequences can adversely impact all facets of your life and may make it more difficult for you to find a job.
An employer, especially in a retail establishment, may be much less likely to hire you with a theft conviction on your record, and it can prevent you from pursuing some career paths altogether.
If you are facing any type of theft charges, consider scheduling an appointment to speak with a Covington County shoplifting lawyer about the charges and your options for resolving them.