Can I Be Charged with PC 484 –Theft or PC 459 - Burglary If I Never Even Left The Store?

Can I Be Charged with PC 484 –Theft or PC 459 - Burglary If I Never Even Left The Store?

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A lot of people do not truly understand what can amount to a petty theft, sometimes also referred to as shoplifting, or commercial burglary. It is common for people think they have not committed a crime when they enter a store with the intent to steal a small item (or forget to pay intentionally) or that they can still get charged with committing a crime even if they do not get away with stealing anything.

For example, I had a call the other day and the young lady said, “I put some makeup in my purse, but they grabbed me before I left the store! I can’t be charged with burglary AND shoplifting!!” She told me that she wanted to become a nurse and if she was convicted the school would not accept her. And for the most part, she is right. Even if you get into the program, you cannot do “clinicals” (work on the hospital floor) while on probation. The list of problems if you are convicted goes on.

In California, to be found guilty of petty theft, the prosecution has to prove several things:

  • You took possession of property that belonged to somebody else;
  • You took that property without the owner’s consent;
  • When you took the property, you intended to deprive the owner of it permanently or to take it away from the owner for so long that they would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property;
  • And, you moved the property even a small distance and kept it for any period of time. (Penal Code section 484, Jury Instruction 1800.)

So, even if you have not taken the makeup (in your purse) outside the store or to another section, a jury can find you have taken possession of it and intend to keep it, the crime has been committed. Of course, there are many defenses and San Diego Defenders understands them.

Everyone should keep in mind, today. Almost all stores have security cameras watching. Some can see almost every inch of the premises. Even if you are still in the store, if you hide something in your clothes or a bag, even stolen makeup can probably be seen. Other things that are important in shoplifting cases is whether the item out of its packaging or the tags are off when you picked it up, that can be a defense.

When someone is accused of shoplifting, it is important to have a defense attorney who really understands the law in order to be able to challenge all the things the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Don’t listen to your all the story from people you may know. Call us and we can evaluate your case. Your future may depend on it!