Is Shoplifting a Crime?
In Washington, the crime of shoplifting, like other theft charges, is classified based on its level of severity. Shoplifting is classified into 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree, and can be charged as a gross misdemeanor up to a Class B Felony depending on the specifics of the crime.
If you have been accused of shoplifting, your first step should be to gather all the information you can to know just what you are up against as it is important to take this charge seriously.
Theft in the 1st Degree
If the value of the property or services exceeds $5,000 (with the exception of a firearm or vehicle), it will be classified as 1st degree theft. As a Class B felony, the penalties can include:
- 10-year maximum jail sentence
- $20,000 fine
Theft in the 2nd Degree
Theft in the 2nd degree can be charged if the property or services stolen is valued between $750 and $5,000. This is classified as a Class C felony and can be punished with:
- Up to 5 years in jail
- A fine of $10,000
Theft in the 3rd Degree
If the property or service stolen is valued at less than $750, it is classified as a 3rd degree theft. This is a gross misdemeanor and can be punished with:
- A maximum of 364 days in jail
- A $5,000 fine
In most cases, shoplifting falls under the classification of 3rd degree theft, but that depends on the value of the property allegedly taken. In addition to the associated penalties for the particular classification, shoplifting charges can also have long-term and embarrassing impacts on one’s life.
If you are accused of shoplifting in the state of Washington, you are up against a difficult legal road, but with Guadagno & Virant, PLLC by your side, you can have full confidence in obtaining the best possible outcome. Our Seattle criminal defense attorneys will do what it takes to pursue a reduction or dismissal of your charges.
Questions Your Attorney May Ask
To adequately plan and prepare for your legal attack, following are some of the likely questions your attorney will ask to gain a clear perspective on your situation:
- Were you in the store when stopped?
- Had you already passed the checkout or register area of the store?
- Did the store supply shopping carts/baskets?
- Were you carrying a personal bag?
- Was it a mistake and you had intended to pay?
- Was the “off-limits” area clearly marked as such?
- Where were the items recovered from?
- Did you make any statements or admissions, and to whom?
Contact us today to discuss your shoplifting crime and possible defenses.