Theft and Shoplifting

California’s Shoplifting Laws

California Penal Code about California’s Shoplifting Laws defines the crime of shoplifting as entering a business open during normal hours with a value of $950 or less. In this article, we will discuss about Petty theft, Shoplifting, and Grand theft and their effects on a person’s life.

The Law Offices of Nicola Fitzgerald have handled shoplifting charges involving every major area store.  Some of the more common are:

  • Fry’s
  • Kohl’s
  • Costco
  • Macy’s
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Best Buy
  • Whole Foods

We have worked with clients accused of shoplifting, petty theft and grand theft from many major Southern California Area retail establishments.

Most of our clients are honest professional people who hire us to keep their record clean.  We’ve found that some loss prevention personnel are overly aggressive, often misunderstanding what may be an innocent mistake.  In other cases where our clients have done something wrong, we are very creative in negotiating outcomes that avoid the stigma of a criminal record.


What is Petty Theft?

Petty theft is a crime under Penal Code 484 and Penal Code 488 in California. Generally speaking, in most cases it involves the theft, or stealing, of property or services valued at under $950.

Even though this might sound like a relatively minor offense, a charge may affect your future, including your chances of employment. If this is your first charge and you are a first-time offender, there may be ways of avoiding a conviction with the right legal assistance. However, if you have prior convictions, even a petty theft accusation can expose you to serious penalties – if you have been accused of petty theft, you should contact The Law Offices of Nicola Fitzgerald immediately to discuss your case with one of our experienced attorneys.

What is Shoplifting?

Shoplifting is a kind of theft, and one of the most common types of petty theft, if the goods taken are worth less than $950. It is very common for people who actually did not mean to take property to be accused of shoplifting – it’s easy to forget about something you’ve picked up in a store when distracted by children, a phone call, or simple absent-mindedness.

People accused of shoplifting will usually be confronted by loss prevention officers who are employed by the store. They will decide whether to call the police or not. If you are accused of shoplifting by a loss prevention officer, make sure that you call The Law Offices of Nicola Fitzgerald so we can help you. We’ve worked with loss prevention officers from stores all over Southern California, and we’re usually able to help you to negotiate or settle the matter without having to get the police involved.

What is Grand Theft?

Grand theft is a crime under Penal Code 484 and Penal Code 487 in California. In most cases, it involves the theft of property or services valued at more than $950, or the theft of a vehicle, or of a firearm or gun. You might have heard the theft of a car or other vehicle referred to as ‘grand theft auto’ and of a gun as ‘grand theft firearm’. Grand theft is a very serious charge, and may involve serious penalties – if you have been accused of grand theft, you should contact The Law Offices of Nicola Fitzgerald right away so we can start working on your defense immediately.

Can I settle this out of court?

Yes – depending on what stage your case it at, and the exact nature of the accusations against you, an attorney may be able to help you reach an out-of-court, civil compromise or help you get access to a diversion program . At The Law Offices of Nicola Fitzgerald, our goal is always the compromise or full dismissal of charges, so you can feel confident that we will fight hard to get you the best result possible.

It is essential, however, to try to settle any matter as soon as possible, and certainly before charges are filed. . Your best chance of doing this is with the assistance of a lawyer who has experience in these kinds of matters.

Do I really need a lawyer?

Yes, you do. Not only is it your right, but your best chance of fighting the case against you is by having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. The Law Offices of Nicola Fitzgerald has handled many cases of shoplifting according to California’s Shoplifting Laws and other forms of theft allegations that never saw the inside of a courtroom – we are your best chance of making sure that you can avoid court too.

How can early intervention affect the success of my case?

At The Law Offices of Nicola Fitzgerald, we know that early intervention is your best chance of success. It is important to contact a lawyer as soon as you can, because there will be opportunities to settle or negotiate your case at the start that won’t exist later. The Law Offices of Nicola Fitzgerald handle hundreds of cases and work with the stores, loss prevention officers, and police, to ensure that honest people who may have made a silly mistake are given a proper chance. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can try to reach a civil compromise in your case, or ensure that you’re able to access one of California’s diversion programs.

Any criminal accusation is a serious matter and, in the case of theft charges, may have consequences for the rest of your life. If you are facing an accusation of theft or shoplifting, contact The Law Offices of Nicola Fitzgerald as soon as possible for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

  • Petty Theft
  • Shoplifting
  • Grand Theft
  • Embezzlement
  • Commercial Burglary


  • Bribery
  • Computer Hacking
  • Counterfeiting
  • Cyber Crime
  • Email Interception
  • Extortion
  • Forgery
  • Identity Theft
  • Money Laundering
  • Pandering
  • Pyramid Schemes
  • Racketeering / RICO
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