Clark County courts take Las Vegas shoplifting charges very seriously. A conviction may not only land you behind bars and in debt . . . future employers may also pass you over for a job when it surfaces on a background check.
Our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers have enjoyed great success in getting Nevada shoplifting cases thrown out or reduced to lesser charges so your criminal record stays clean. Below we have provided a brief overview of Clark County retail theft law including possible penalties and the defense we may use to fight your case.
Legal definition of "shoplifting" in Nevada
The legal definition of "shoplifting" in Las Vegas, Nevada, is when someone "intentionally steals, takes or carries away" store property. The legal name for shoplifting is "larceny," and the seriousness of the charges depends on the value of the goods allegedly stolen:
If someone is arrested for shoplifting $650 or more worth of property, then they may be charged with the Nevada felony of grand larceny. (NRS 205.220) Conversely, if someone is arrested for shoplifting less than $650 worth of property, then they may face charges for the Nevada misdemeanor of petty larceny. (NRS 204.240)
Burglary (NRS 205.060)
Las Vegas retail theft is separate from the Nevada crime of burglary, which makes it illegal to enter any building with the intent to commit larceny inside irrespective of whether any property is taken. Therefore someone may face both burglary and larceny charges in a shoplifting case if the prosecution believes that they intended to steal when they went into the store.
There are numerous defenses your criminal defense lawyer may explore employing when fighting a Las Vegas shoplifting charge, and the particulars of your case dictate which ones will work most effectively. The following are some examples of these defenses.
- Lack of intent. You cannot be convicted of shoplifting in Nevada unless the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to permanently deprive the store of the goods. If you intended to return them, or you accidentally walked out forgetting to pay, then the charges should be dismissed.
- Mistaken identity. Perhaps in the heat of the moment the storeowner attributed the theft to the wrong person. If your attorney can raise a reasonable doubt that you were not the person who shoplifted the items, then your charges should be dropped.
- You owned the property. Maybe you already owned the items in question, and the storekeeper mistook them for their property. Perhaps you had already paid for the items, and the storekeeper forgot. If the prosecution can show that you already owned the property, then shoplifting charges cannot stand.
The punishments a judge may impose for a Nevada shoplifting conviction turn on whether the charges were for grand larceny or petty larceny:
Petty Larceny (NRS 205.240)
Petty larceny, which is a misdemeanor in Las Vegas, carries a possible sentence of:
- restitution, and
- up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines
If it is your first offense, prosecutors are often amenable to dismissing a petty larceny charge or lessening it to something more minor like Nevada jaywalking so long as you pay a fine, restitution, and complete "Petit Larceny School."
Grand Larceny (NRS 205.220)
The penalties for grand larceny depend on the value of the items allegedly shoplifted. If the value is $650 up to $3,499.99, then it is a category C felony in Nevada carrying:
- 1 - 5 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- restitution, and
- maybe up to $10,000 in fines
But if the value of the allegedly stolen goods is $3,500 or higher, then it is a category B felony in Nevada carrying:
- 1 - 10 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- up to $10,000 in fines, and
If someone is charged with burglary for a shoplifting incident, they face the category B felony sentence of:
- 1 - 10 years in prison (or 2 - 15 years if the suspect possessed a deadly weapon), and
- maybe a $10,000 fine
Shoplifting is a crime involving moral turpitude in Nevada, so immigrants and aliens who have been convicted of it face removal from the U.S. If you are a non-citizen who has been charged with retail theft in Nevada, it may be possible to plead your charges down to something that is not a deportable offense in Nevada.
Call us if you have been arrested for shoplifting . . .
For years our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers have achieved full dismissals or charge reductions in shoplifting cases. Please call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free meeting to discuss how we can fight your case so you can move on with your life as quickly as possible.
- For information on California law, visit our page on California shoplifting laws.
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