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Retailers back harsher penalties for shoplifting in California. San Diego Petty Theft, San Diego Grand theft, Burglary, embezzlement. San Diego Theft Lawyer. San Diego Theft Attorney and Former San Diego Prosecutor explains

On Behalf of | Oct 22, 2020 | General Criminal Defense |

Major retail chains, including Best Buy, Home Depot, Target, and others, are spending millions of dollars advocating for stronger shoplifting penalties in 18 states, including California. According to a new report by the nonprofit Public Citizen consumer group, 11 states have adopted harsher measures over a petty theft.

California has some of the most expensive retail stores in the U.S. located in Beverly Hills, San Francisco and Hollywood. However, in 2014, voters approved Proposition 47, which reduced penalties for many crimes, such as shoplifting, by raising the monetary threshold for the charge to $950.

Petty theft vs. grand theft

While the Golden State doesn’t have a specific statute for shoplifting, the crime is covered in general theft laws. Someone can be charged with shoplifting, also known as petty theft, for allegedly stealing an item or items under $950 in value, while anything over that amount can bring grand theft charges. Shoplifting is typically a misdemeanor, punishable by:

  • Up to six months in a county jail
  • Up to a $1,000 fine

If the stolen property is worth $50 or less, it can be considered a lesser infraction, punishable with a fine of up to $250.

Prop 20 would toughen penalties

A measure on the 2020 November ballot – Proposition 20 – has implications for people charged with shoplifting. The measure is backed by large companies, such as Albertsons, which owns Safeway. Prop 20 would increase penalties by creating two new theft-related crimes:

  • Organized retail theft: A person acting with others by committing petty theft or shoplifting more than $250 worth of property within 180 days.
  • Serial theft: Someone found guilty of shoplifting items worth more than $250 who also has two or more past convictions for theft-related crimes, such as carjacking, forgery or burglary.

Both of these new crimes would be considered “wobblers,” meaning they can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies, punishable by up to three years in jail.

More time behind bars isn’t the answer

Many of these retailers believe putting people in jail and increased fines are needed as a deterrent. They argue higher monetary amounts for shoplifting encourages more petty theft. However, a study by Pew Charitable Trusts shows the opposite is true, and that property crimes decreased before these changes took place and continued to drop afterward.

The nonprofit says more severe punishments are more costly to taxpayers and do not reduce crime. Many others say these crackdowns only lead to a cycle of incarceration and trap people in the criminal justice system. Many experts say that it will continue to happen until the root causes, including homelessness, mental illness and poverty, are addressed.

Seek aggressive defense for petty crime charges

Theft cases, including shoplifting, can cause devastating and long-term consequences without a proper defense. Those charged can be denied employment or educational opportunities. Noncitizens face significant immigration ramifications.

Often, a theft charge can result from a misunderstanding, such as talking on your phone and walking out of a store with an item you forgot you were holding in your hand or being distracted by your children.

A knowledgeable San Diego theft attorney will work with prosecutors and judges to reduce or dismiss charges when these mistakes happen or find creative solutions to minimize the consequences and protect your future.

Petty Theft is a charge that is very common in San Diego.  It can be someone accidentally walking out of a Mission Valley store with an item while on the phone to a mother walking out of a department store distracted by her children.  Because of the substantial consequences in any theft case, your first step is to contact trusted and experienced San Diego Theft Attorney Mark Deniz to deal with your case.Get a former prosecutor on your side.  The key is to be proactive.  If you want the best possible outcome, contact the Law Offices of Mark Deniz at 858-751-4384.

The Law Offices of Mark Deniz focuses substantial efforts on 1st-time shoplifting and petty theft cases, and makes extraordinary efforts to steer cases away from court, whenever possible, and into alternatives such as “Diversion” and other programs.

Contact San Diego Theft attorney Mark Deniz today at 858-751-4384 to find out what theft case strategies may be effective for you.

Common San Diego Theft Charges

Some of the most frequently occurring types of theft cases are:

  • Grand Theft

Grand Theft in California is generally theft in an amount of more than $950.  A theft above the $950 amount may be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on a person’s criminal history, circumstances of the case, as well as prosecuting agencies’ internal filing policies.  If convicted of grand theft, a person can face up to three years in custody.  If the amount of theft is over $50,000, a person faces enhancements of one to two additional years in prison.  These factors make it especially important to have the representation of San Diego Theft Attorney Mark Deniz.  Get a former prosecutor on your side.  The key is to be proactive.  If you want the best possible outcome, contact the Law Offices of Mark Deniz at 858-751-4384.

  • Petty Theft/Shoplifting

A Petty Theft is generally theft in an amount of $950 or less.  If a person has no criminal history, a San Diego petty theft is often charged as a misdemeanor.  A misdemeanor petty theft conviction can result in six months jail time and fines of $1,000 plus penalty assessment and fees.  Under recent California law, if a person has been convicted of three prior petty theft violations, and is charged with a fourth violation, the fourth violation can be charged as a felony.


If you have been accused of theft, you need the trusted and experienced San Diego Theft Attorney who understands effective and innovative approaches, someone who emphasizes creative resolutions for his clients in theft cases and provides personal attention for his clients.  That attorney is Mark Deniz. Get a former prosecutor on your side.  The key is to be proactive.  If you want the best possible outcome, contact the Law Offices of Mark Deniz at 858-751-4384.

Mark Deniz understands how a theft case, such as shoplifting, can have long-term consequences, such as a bar to future employment, and significant negative immigration consequences for non-citizens.  He works tirelessly for clients with theft cases, focusing on all available alternatives.

Contact the Law Offices of Mark Deniz now at 858-751-4384, to find out about available strategies for your San Diego theft case.


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