Shoplifting Can Now Land You in Prison
In March, the Minnesota Legislature upgraded some types of shoplifting from misdemeanors to felonies punishable by five years' imprisonment. The new Organized Retail Crime Act is aimed at professional thieves who steal from stores and then sell the stolen goods.
What makes shoplifting a felony instead of a misdemeanor?
The difference between felony and misdemeanor shoplifting charges lies in the shoplifter’s intent. You violate the Organized Retail Crime Act (ORCA) if you steal merchandise with the intent to resell it. Professional shoplifters often use Internet sites such as eBay and Craigslist to fence stolen goods.
How do you defend a felony charge of organized retail theft?
A felony conviction for shoplifting requires proof that you were part of an organized effort to steal and sell the goods. If you acted alone and simply pocketed an item on impulse, you have not committed organized retail theft. On the other hand, if you, along with friends or family members, shoplifted multiple items, the prosecution has a better case for organized retail theft. If you or your companions ultimately offered the stolen goods for sale, the state’s case under ORCA is even stronger.
If you are charged with a felony, a felony conviction is not a sure thing. An experienced defense attorney can work to have your charge downgraded to a misdemeanor or negotiate a deal involving probation and a delayed sentence. Consult a respected criminal defense attorney who is prepared to fight for your rights and freedom.