San Jose Shoplifting Lawyer
Have you recently been accused of shoplifting in San Jose, California? It can be a difficult and stressful experience. You may feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the legal process, but there are steps you can take to protect your rights.
If you’ve been charged with shoplifting in California, it’s important to understand the potential penalties and know how best to defend yourself against these charges. For help with a shoplifting charge in San Jose, CA, contact Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law to schedule a free consultation. Contact us at (408) 217-8818.
How Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law Can Help If You’re Arrested for Shoplifting in San Jose
While shoplifting may not sound like a serious crime, it still carries penalties that could include jail time – which is why you need a criminal defense lawyer’s help. Here are some specific steps our San Jose theft crimes attorneys can take to help you if you were arrested in San Jose, CA:
- Gather information: We will gather all relevant information regarding your case so that we can build an effective legal defense. This includes reviewing any evidence or testimonies from witnesses or police officers that may be used against you.
- Establish defenses: Depending on your case, we may be able to establish legal defenses such as lack of intent or mistake of fact (e.g., thinking items were free when they weren’t). Additionally, if this is not your first offense, there might also be mitigating circumstances we can use in court that could reduce the resulting penalties.
- Negotiate on your behalf: To the best of our ability, we’ll attempt to have your charges reduced or dismissed by way of negotiations with the prosecution.
- Represent you in court: We can represent you in court and advocate on your behalf by making appropriate arguments for your innocence.
Contact Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law today to schedule a free consultation if you’re ready to get started.
Overview of Shoplifting in California
To be convicted of shoplifting, prosecutors must prove that you entered an open business with the intent to steal something valued at $950 or less. In this case, shoplifting is charged as a misdemeanor and carries probation, fines, restitution to the victim, and up to 6 months of jail time.
Depending on your circumstances and the severity of the crime, some first-time offenders may be eligible for diversion programs. Charges will be dropped following completion of the program, which typically entails paying restitution, taking anti-theft training, or performing community service hours.
If you steal more than $950 worth of items, you can be charged with grand theft, which is a felony offense and carries significantly harsher penalties.
Examples of Shoplifting
It’s important that you understand precisely what makes up a crime involving this type of behavior so you can protect yourself against any potential issues. Here are some examples of what could qualify as shoplifting under California law:
- Taking something without paying.
- Switching price tags – Switching price tags to purchase items at lower prices than their actual value is also illegal and classified as petty theft.
- Concealing or hiding items – Concealing an item inside another purchase or hiding the merchandise on your person are both forms of theft that could result in criminal penalties.
These are not the only ways that shoplifting can occur in San Jose, California.
In addition to criminal consequences, a single shoplifting offense can lead to severe immigration consequences as well.
U.S. immigration law requires non-citizens to demonstrate a “good moral character” as part of their eligibility for various immigration benefits, such as obtaining a visa or green card or becoming a U.S. citizen. If a person is deemed to not have good moral character, they can:
- Be denied entry into the U.S. or made inadmissible, or
- Be deported
According to USCIS, a conviction for a crime of moral turpitude – which shoplifting is – indicates a lack of good moral character.
If the following criteria are met, a person is deportable:
- You are convicted of shoplifting,
- You receive a jail sentence of at least one year (you have prior convictions), and
- The conviction happened within five years of being admitted to the U.S.
In addition, deportation can occur if:
- You have another conviction for a crime of moral turpitude in addition to the shoplifting conviction, and
- That other conviction was distinct from the shoplifting case.
Other collateral consequences can result from a shoplifting conviction as well, depending on the facts of the case.
What Defenses Can Be Raised If I’m Accused of Shoplifting in San Jose, California?
Shoplifting can be a serious offense, but with the right defense strategies in place, these charges may be reduced or even dismissed. Some common strategies include the following:
Civil Compromise: Restitution for Stolen Goods
By agreeing to repay the business owner for any losses associated with the shoplifting incident, you may be able to negotiate a reduced sentence or avoid criminal prosecution altogether.
- Civil compromise helps to make the aggrieved party whole again by compensating them financially.
- Avoids the time and cost associated with a criminal trial.
- A successful civil compromise may result in the dismissal of charges once all requirements are satisfied.
An experienced San Jose shoplifting lawyer can help you look into this option.
Informal diversion is another popular defense strategy when facing shoplifting charges. This involves pleading guilty but being able to have your charges dropped if you complete certain requirements, such as attending theft education classes, participating in community service, or paying restitution in order to avoid a guilty judgment.
- Less severe consequences compared to a criminal conviction.
- Provides an opportunity for rehabilitation and learning from mistakes.
- May prevent having a criminal record, resulting in better future prospects.
Our legal team will work hard to secure this option if it is in your best interest.
Mistake of Fact: Lack of Intent To Steal
A person may successfully argue a mistake of fact defense in order to demonstrate that they did not have the intent to steal when entering the store. This can be quite persuasive when the evidence supports the claim, such as accidentally leaving with unpaid merchandise.
- Individuals can establish they had no intent to steal upon entering the store.
- Can prove innocence if the shoplifting incident was genuinely an accident.
- May lead to the dismissal of charges if the prosecution’s burden of proof is not met.
The prosecution must prove your mind state beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest burden of proof standard in the law.
After-Entry Intent: Decision To Steal Made Inside the Store
If the decision to steal something was made after entering the store, the after-entry intent defense may be available. This can help in situations where it is unclear when the intent to shoplift was formed.
- Differentiates between premeditated and spontaneous shoplifting incidents.
- Challenges the prosecution’s burden of proof regarding intent to steal.
- Can result in reduced or dismissed charges.
Proving intent can be difficult for the prosecution, as noted above.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With Our San Jose Shoplifting Lawyers
Each shoplifting case in San Jose is unique, and the best defense will be developed depending on the facts of the case. If you are charged with shoplifting, it is critical that you consult trusted criminal defense lawyers in San Jose as soon as possible. Contact Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law to schedule a free consultation.