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What is California’s organized retail theft law?

Theft is a commonly charged offense in California, including here in the Tulare area. While most people think of simple shoplifting when they think of this crime, it can actually be more wide-ranging and carry more significant penalties than many people realize. One way prosecutors can obtain more serious convictions is by pursuing charges related to organized retail theft.

California’s organized retail theft law

Under California’s law, several actions that you might think constitute regular theft can be heightened to a charge of organized retail theft. There are a number of actions that qualify as organized retail theft. Amongst them are working together with one or more individuals to steal merchandise from a retailer wit the intent to either sell the good for a profit, exchange it for other goods of personal benefit, or fraudulently return the merchandise for either cash or gift cards. It’s even organized retail theft to simply possess these good knowing that they are stolen. Recruiting individuals to carry out these acts also falls under the statute.

Penalties for this offense are largely dependent upon the value of good stolen. If the value of the goods is more than $950 and the theft occurred from more than one establishment over the course of a year, then you can be faced with several years of incarceration. Even if the value of the goods falls below $950, you could still be threatened with a year in county jail.

Build the criminal defense you need

Prosecutors have a heavy burden when it comes to proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In many theft cases, defendants are able to challenge certain aspects of the crime, including intent. But even when that’s not possible, you still might be able to avoid the harshest penalties and avoid jail time altogether by engaging in plea negotiations. To better determine which criminal defense strategy is best for you, you might want to discuss the circumstances of your case with an attorney who is experienced in handling these types of cases.

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John Patrick Ryan has been practicing law for over 20 years. Experienced in criminal law. U.S. Navy Veteran.