In 2017 alone, more than 432,000 shoplifters and unscrupulous employees were apprehended by just twenty-one major retail stores. While these types of thefts continue to rise, businesses have work to catch those who steal from them. If a person is caught shoplifting, they could face serious criminal charges.
The Kentucky Penal Code prohibits taking the property of another if you intend to deprive them of it. In other words, if you take merchandise or goods from a retailer with the intent of keeping it — thereby depriving them of their property — you could be charged with the crime of shoplifting. Depending on the value of the goods taken, you may be facing anywhere from one to twenty years in prison for the offense.
If you have been charged with shoplifting, it is important to retain a skilled attorney who can analyze the facts of the case to put together a strong defense. Even if the alleged theft was caught on tape, there may still be avenues to resolve the case favorably based on the definition of shoplifting under Kentucky law.
How Shoplifting Is Defined Under Kentucky Law
In Kentucky, shoplifting is charged as the general crime “theft by unlawful taking.” To convict a person of this crime, a prosecutor must demonstrate that he or she unlawfully:
- Took or exercised control over movable property
of another with intent to deprive him thereof; or
- Obtained immovable property of another or any interest therein with intent to benefit himself or another not entitled thereto.
The first category — taking movable property of another with the intent to deprive them of it — is the subsection used to prove shoplifting.
Shoplifting can occur in a number of ways, such as concealing merchandise or changing tags on an item. If the prosecutor can show that you had an intent to deprive the owner of the merchandise without paying the purchase price, you may be charged with the crime of shoplifting in Kentucky.
Degrees of Shoplifting in Kentucky
While shoplifting is charged as theft by unlawful taking under Kentucky law, there are degrees of shoplifting that are based on the value of goods taken. The degree of the charge will impact the penalty for a conviction.
If the merchandise taken was valued at between $500 and $10,000, the theft will be charged as a Class D felony. The same charge will be brought if an individual takes items used to manufacture methamphetamine or a firearm. A conviction of this offense will result in jail time of between one and five years, and fines of either double the gain from the offense or $10,000, whichever is greater.
If the goods stolen were valued at $10,000 and under $1,000,000, the theft charge will be a Class C felony. Punishment for this crime includes jail time of between five and ten years, and a fine of either double the gain from the offense or $10,000, whichever is greater.
In addition to criminal penalties, anyone who is convicted of shoplifting in Kentucky can be sued in civil court by the victim(s). The potential liability for this type of case includes the actual damages, a penalty in the amount of the retail value of the merchandise (up to $500), and an additional penalty of $100 to $250. If the person charged with shoplifting is a minor, the parent or legal guardian may be sued in civil court for these damages.
Options for Resolving a Kentucky Shoplifting Case
In Kentucky, there are opportunities available to defendants accused of certain first-time and low-level crimes. This may include individuals accused of theft by unlawful taking (shoplifting).
A pretrial diversion program offers the chance to complete a program, which typically involves completing community service and paying restitution to the victim. If the individual fulfills their obligations under the program, then their criminal charges will be dropped. In Kentucky, pretrial diversion programs are generally only available for people with limited or no criminal history and who have been charged with a Class D felony, a misdemeanor or a criminal violation.
If a pre-trial diversion program is not available, then a plea bargain may be another way to resolve the case. Depending on the circumstances, a prosecutor may offer leniency, such as a reduced charge in exchange for a guilty plea.
Alternatively, there may be cases where the police acted in violation of the law, or there are other legal issues. A skilled lawyer can make arguments or seek to suppress evidence in the case, and work to have the charges dismissed entirely.
Work with a Lexington Shoplifting Attorney
Theft by unlawful taking cases are unique, as they often involve video or other evidence of the crime. Yet that does not mean that there is no hope for a positive outcome. At Baldani Law Group, we aggressively advocate for our clients, working to find the best solution based on the facts of each case.
If you or a loved one has been charged with shoplifting in Kentucky, we can help. To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us online or call our office at 859-259-0727.