Larceny From a Retailer: What is it?
Most theft from a retailer will qualify as petit larceny. We think of it as shoplifting. In Oklahoma, petit larceny is defined as all larceny from a retailer that doesn’t qualify as grand larceny. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1704
In order to understand what petit larceny is in Oklahoma, you must know what grand larceny is. In Oklahoma, grand larceny is defined as the taking of property valued in excess of $1,000, or property of any value if taken from the person of another. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1704
Most shoplifting charges are for property worth less than $1,000 and so, are considered to be petit larceny. Larceny from a retailer involves the taking and carrying away of retail goods by fraud or stealth, with the intent to permanently deprive. (OUJI-CR 5-104)
Larceny from a retailer — or shoplifting — is treated a bit differently from basic larceny in Oklahoma. Penalties escalate with repeated convictions. A first or second conviction for shoplifting from a retailer worth less than $1,000 is punishable by up to 30 days in the county jail and/or a fine ranging from $10 to $500. If more than one item is stolen on a first or second conviction, the possible fine increases to between $50 and $500, but the jail time stays the same.
A third or subsequent conviction for shoplifting an item worth less than $1,000 is punishable by up to a year in county jail and/or a fine up to $1,000. If the property is worth $1,000 or more, the perpetrator could face up to five years in prison. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1731
Civil Actions Provide Costly Penalties
Oklahoma law provides for civil actions against shoplifters that can be brought in addition to criminal charges. A shop owner may sue the shoplifter in civil court for the retail price of the goods stolen if they are damaged or lost, or for a percentage of the diminished value of the merchandise plus attorney’s fees and costs — which can run into tens of thousands of dollars.
This civil action can be brought against an adult who commits the shoplifting as well as against the parent of a minor who commits the shoplifting offense. In addition, the court allows punitive damages, a way for a court to slap your hands financially.
Public service can be ordered instead of punitive damages. The public service ordered must satisfy the damages assessed by the court at the federal minimum wage level, and must fall between $50 and $500. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1731.1
If charged with larceny from a retailer, you could be looking at thousands of dollars in costs and attorneys fees before the matter is settled. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you contain these costs and fees and bring the matter to resolution quickly. There are defenses available to you.
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