Are Shoplifting and Theft Treated the Same Way in Utah?

Shoplifting is stealing, but does that mean shoplifting is theft, legally speaking? How does Utah treat shoplifting charges in comparison to how it treats theft charges? Are there any notable differences defendants should know about?

Shoplifting is treated like theft in Utah because it is classified as a type of theft, retail theft. Various acts constitute retail theft, such as intentionally stealing an item from a store or changing its price tag to get it at a reduced cost. Charges for retail theft depend on the sum of the stolen merchandise. Even misdemeanor charges related to retail theft could result in jail time and fines for defendants in Utah. Furthermore, many shoplifting perpetrators are minors or young adults, making the impact of these charges all the more serious. If you were convicted of charges related to shoplifting in your youth, our lawyers may be able to get your criminal record expunged so that it does not impact your life as an adult.

To get a free and confidential assessment of your case from our Salt Lake City theft defense lawyers, you can call Overson Law, PLLC now at (801) 758-2287.

Does Utah Treat Shoplifting as Theft?

Shoplifting might not have as serious of a connotation as theft, but it should. Shoplifting is a type of theft in Utah. If arrested for shoplifting, you might face serious charges with equally serious consequences.

In Utah, shoplifting is categorized as retail theft. Under Utah Code § 76-6-602(2), someone commits retail theft if they knowingly take merchandise from a store without paying for it. Intentionally changing price tags so that you underpay for an item is also considered retail theft. Various other acts also constitute retail theft in Utah.

The severity of the charge will depend on the value of the stolen merchandise. In Utah, shoplifting between $500 and $1,500 is a class A misdemeanor. Shoplifting between $1,500 and $5,000 is a third degree felony, and shoplifting more than $5,000 is a second degree felony. Shoplifting less than $500 is a class B misdemeanor.

Other factors might dictate the level of charge for shoplifting, like a defendant’s criminal history and the stolen merchandise in question. For example, suppose someone stole from a store in the past and was convicted of charges related to retail theft. Then, suppose they stole from the same store again. Under Utah Code § 76-6-602(3)(b)(iv), they would be charged with a third degree felony, even if they recently stole between $500 and $1,500 worth of merchandise.

One of the biggest differences between Utah’s definitions of theft and retail theft is the victims. For example, under Utah Code § 76-6-604(2), a person commits theft if they take or exercise unauthorized control over someone else’s property to deprive them of it. Utah uses similar guidelines to determine the level of theft charges when assessing shoplifting charges.

Examples of Retail Theft in Utah

Acts other than removing merchandise from a store without paying for it are still considered retail theft in Utah and can still lead to criminal charges.

Changing price tags on an item and then attempting to purchase that item at a reduced price is retail theft under Utah Code § 76-6-602(2)(b), as is intentionally hiding one object within another to get it at a reduced price. Getting a cashier to under-ring an item, or ring it up at a lesser price than what it is valued at, is also retail theft in Utah. Furthermore, taking a shopping cart from a store or establishment is also retail theft.

That is to say, retail theft has broad definitions that might enable prosecutors to bring more serious charges against defendants than they might have anticipated. Furthermore, prosecutors might be able to bring enhanced charges against defendants if they have histories of shoplifting.

Utah’s Sentencing Guidelines for Shoplifting and Theft Convictions

If convicted of charges related to retail theft, you could face time in jail. Preventing this however possible is important, especially because of how a criminal conviction could impact your future.

If convicted of a third degree felony for shoplifting, you could face up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines. For second degree felony convictions, defendants might face between one and 15 years in prison.

Class A and B misdemeanor convictions for retail theft can result in jail time and fines. Depending on your case, our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers might be able to convince the prosecution to reduce the charges against you so that your primary consequence is a fine, not prison time.

Can You Expunge Shoplifting and Theft Convictions in Utah?

A shoplifting charge from your youth could hurt your chances of finding employment in the future. Fortunately, Utah lets many people with criminal records wipe the slate clean via expungement.

Whether or not you can expunge shoplifting convictions from your criminal record will depend on several factors, such as when you were convicted. For class B misdemeanors, you have to wait four years to file for expungement. For class A misdemeanors, you have to wait five years. And, for expungable felonies, you have to wait seven years.

Other factors, like your number of convictions and age at the time of arrest, might impact your expungement eligibility. For example, if you were arrested for and convicted of shoplifting charges as a minor, you might be able to file for expungement if you are now an adult and meet the other criteria.

When you successfully expunge shoplifting convictions or other theft convictions from your criminal record in Utah, future employers or other interested parties will not be able to see that information.

Call Our Lawyers in Utah to Get Help with Your Defense

To get a free and confidential assessment of your case from our Ogden theft defense lawyers, call Overson Law, PLLC now at (801) 758-2287.