Shoplifting is one of many theft-related criminal offenses that has its own unique definition under Nebraska state law. Fighting these types of criminal charges often requires a different tactical approach than cases involving other forms of theft. Despite its reputation as a petty crime, law enforcement authorities and businesses take these allegations seriously, and offenses involving high-value items can be prosecuted as felonies.
If you are currently facing accusations of stealing or altering unpurchased merchandise from a retail store, you should prioritize speaking with a Fremont shoplifting lawyer about your legal options. With guidance from a qualified defense attorney, you stand a much better chance of enforcing your legal rights and securing a favorable case outcome.
Defining Shoplifting as a Distinct Criminal Offense
Nebraska Revised Statutes §28-511.01 outlines the criminal offense of “shoplifting.” Any of these actions committed knowingly and intentionally inside a store for the purpose of using goods without paying for them or depriving their seller of the value of those goods may constitute shoplifting:
- Concealing or taking possession of goods
- Altering price tags, bar codes, or any other price-marking feature
- Transferring goods between containers
- Switching price tags or labels between goods
- Interfering with a scanner or cash register so that it does not show the appropriate price for a good
- Tampering with, removing, or bypassing anti-theft devices
Severity of Shoplifting Charges in Fremont
As per N.R.S. §28-518, the severity of a shoplifting charge varies depending on the total value of goods taken and whether the defendant has prior convictions for the same offense. For example, shoplifting is considered a class II misdemeanor if the defendant has no history of shoplifting convictions and took less than $200 worth of merchandise. This offense is punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and six months of jail time.
However, shoplifting that same value of goods is a felony offense if the defendant was previously convicted of three or more shoplifting convictions. Any shoplifting offense involving more than $500 worth of merchandise is also considered a felony regardless of the defendant’s prior history. This could increase to a maximum classification of Class IIA felony for shoplifting more than $5,000 of goods. No matter what degree of offense a defendant is facing, representation from a knowledgeable shoplifting attorney nearby could be crucial to minimize the risk of serious criminal repercussions.
Contesting Shoplifting Allegations
Like many other theft offenses, intent is key when it comes to prosecution on charges of shoplifting. In short, if a person did not knowingly and intentionally try to deprive a store owner of a product’s value or steal a product without paying for it, they cannot be convicted of shoplifting even if they technically engaged in an act defined as shoplifting above.
For this reason, many case defenses revolve around challenging the assertion that a defendant meant to steal the goods in question. Alternatively, a Fremont lawyer could help accurately define the value of allegedly stolen goods so that a person facing shoplifting charges does not receive unreasonably severe sanctions upon conviction.
Work with a Fremont Shoplifting Attorney
Even for someone with no prior criminal record, a single conviction for shoplifting could have serious professional, personal, and criminal repercussions. Misdemeanor convictions can significantly limit educational and occupational opportunities, and felony convictions may lead to lengthy prison sentences and the permanent loss of civil rights.
Get support from a dedicated Fremont shoplifting lawyer and give yourself the best chances of success in your case. Schedule your consultation by calling our firm today.