Retail theft is better known as shoplifting. A person can be charged with retail theft under Utah Code § 76-6-602 when he or she allegedly steals merchandise, alters or removes price tags, or steals a shopping cart from the business’ premises.
Contact A Utah Criminal Defense Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you or your teenaged son or daughter was arrested for shoplifting in Utah, it’s in your best interests to contact an experienced Salt Lake shoplifting defense lawyer immediately. The penalties for a shoplifting conviction can be severe, and a juvenile or criminal record can have negative consequences long into the future.
Call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 today to set up a free, confidential legal consultation. Attorney Darwin Overson has more than 16 years of experience and may be able to have the charges dropped, have the case dismissed, or obtain a sentence reduction. Darwin handles shoplifting charges in Salt Lake County, Summit County, Wasatch County, Tooele County, Box Elder County, Morgan County, Davis County, and locations throughout Utah.
Juvenile Court: What to Expect After Your Teen is Arrested for Shoplifting
While people of any age can be charged with retail theft, shoplifting is an especially common crime among juveniles. For legal purposes, a juvenile is anyone aged 17 or younger.
When an adult is arrested, he or she is taken into custody at the county jail or pre-trial detention facility in their county. Once the suspect is in police custody, the prosecutor has up to 72 hours to file charges. (The prosecutor may decline to file charges if, for example, he or she doesn’t believe there is sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.)
If no charges have been filed by this time, the detainee should be released from custody. However, prosecutors frequently obtain long extensions to the 72-hour deadline. These extensions violate detainees’ Constitutional rights and will be aggressively disputed by Darwin in every instance.
Even if the prosecutor does decide to file charges, it is generally possible to have the detainee released by posting bail, which may be bondable (bail bonds allowed) or cash-only (no bail bonds allowed).
Unlike adults, juveniles cannot be released on bail. There are also many other differences between adult and juvenile charges. Here are some important distinctions for families to be aware of:
- Adult courts are criminal, while juvenile courts are civil (non-criminal).
- Juvenile court hearings are smaller, less formal, and more private than adult hearings.
- Even if the juvenile admits guilt, he or she may not necessarily have to go to court. Depending on factors like the juvenile’s age, record, and the severity of the crime, he or she might be given a contract to fulfill in place of a hearing.
- Juveniles are not imprisoned with adults. They may be placed in a secure facility, but this sentencing option is “reserved for the most dangerous or chronic offenders.” Other penalties for juveniles are explained in the next section.
Criminal Penalties for Retail Theft in Utah: Fines and Sentencing
There are two types of crimes in Utah: felonies and misdemeanors. Both are split into three categories. Misdemeanors can be Class C, Class B, or Class A. Felonies can be third degree, second degree, or first degree. Class A misdemeanors and first degree felonies carry the harshest penalties in their respective groups.
Retail theft is often a misdemeanor, but can potentially be charged as a felony. It depends on the dollar value of the stolen merchandise, among other factors.
Shoplifting is generally a Class B misdemeanor when the value of the stolen property is $499 or less. However, it becomes a Class A misdemeanor when the property value is $499 or less, the offender stole from that location within the past five years, and has been banned in writing from entering the property. Shoplifting is also a Class A misdemeanor when the stolen property value is at least $500 but less than $1,500.
Shoplifting is a third degree felony when:
- The stolen property value is at least $1,500 but less than $5,000.
- The stolen property value is at least $500 but less than $1,500, the offender stole from that location within the past five years, and has been banned in writing from entering the property.
- The defendant has at least two convictions from the past 10 years, with at least one of those convictions being for robbery, theft, or burglary with intent to commit theft.
Shoplifting is a second degree felony when:
- The stolen property value is $5,000 or more.
- The stolen property was a gun or a functional vehicle, regardless of its dollar value.
- The defendant was armed with a weapon when the theft was committed.
The penalties the defendant faces depends on what sort of misdemeanor or felony he or she is charged with. These penalties may include:
- Class B Misdemeanor
- Sentence – Up to 6 months in jail
- Fine – Up to $1,000
- Class A Misdemeanor
- Sentence – Up to 1 year in jail
- Fine – Up to $2,500
- Third Degree Felony
- Sentence – Up to 5 years in prison
- Fine – Up to $5,000
- Second Degree Felony
- Sentence – Up to 15 years in prison
- Fine – Up to $15,000
In addition to criminal fines, offenders are also civilly liable for “treble damages,” which means repaying three times the amount of the financial losses caused by the theft.
Juveniles will not be incarcerated among adult offenders. However, they may face other consequences, which could include probation, community service, and fines.
If you or your child was charged with shoplifting in Utah, your family needs an aggressive and highly experienced Salt Lake juvenile crimes attorney. Call the law offices of Overson Law right away at (801) 758-2287 for a free legal consultation. Darwin is also available to make emergency visits to detention centers and county jails.