Theft and Shoplifting
Alabama has strict laws and penalties concerning the most severe theft (larceny) and shoplifting crimes. Some offenses are minor and will only result in a misdemeanor appearing on your record. Alabama has had to put in place laws for identity theft due to people stealing other people’s information from the Internet.
Laws Regarding Theft and Shoplifting
The laws regarding theft and shoplifting tend to differ by what type of property has been stolen and how much that property is valued to be worth. For instance, the theft of an automobile will be governed by a specific set of laws focused on what constitutes automobile theft, and many of those laws will be drastically different than stealing a t-shirt from the mall.
Theft of property in the first degree is defined in the Alabama criminal code as stealing property that is more than $2,500 in value from another person. Theft of property in the first degree is considered to be a Class B Felony. Stealing any type of motor vehicle is also considered theft of property in the first degree. Any type of theft that is the direct result of a specific plan made by one person or a group of people can be considered theft of property in the first degree.
Alabama also has laws that govern the theft of services. Theft of services in the first degree occurs when an individual steals services that are valued at $2,500. This is considered a class B felony.
As stated above, physical property is not the only thing that can be stolen. The theft of services is when a person gets a particular service that is supposed to require some type of compensation without paying for it. This can be done by issuing threats, or by refusing to pay for the service. A good example of this would be eating at a restaurant and leaving without paying.
A person who shoplifts is generally not charged with a felony unless the amount of goods stolen from the merchant is over $2,500. However, there are laws that state that a law enforcement officer, merchant, or an employee of the merchant can detain someone who they believe has stolen goods from the merchant. The merchant or employee will not be in violation of anyone’s rights and does not constitute unlawful detention.
Penalties for Theft and Shoplifting
The majority of theft crimes are considered to be Class B felonies. A Class B felony comes with a possible prison sentence can range from up to 20 years to less than 2 years depending on the amount of property stolen. Along with this prison sentence comes a large fine of $30,000 that you will be ordered by the court to pay. Since shoplifting is considered a misdemeanor up until a specific dollar amount, you could, if convicted, spend up to a year in county jail.
Seeking Legal Advice and Representation
Seeking legal representation is crucial if you want to try and avoid a conviction for theft or shoplifting. A good attorney will employ a defense strategy that will investigate the evidence to prove that law enforcement had enough evidence to make a probable cause arrest. An attorney will make sure that the prosecution has to validate all of the evidence that places you at the scene of the crime and to prove your identity. This can help you either get a less severe sentence or a not guilty verdict.