Larceny of merchandise from a retailer is another way of describing shoplifting in Oklahoma City. Shoplifting is a crime of opportunity and people engage in it for varying reasons ranging from need to thrill. Like all jurisdictions, Oklahoma City has laws on the books to protect retailers from shoplifting.
If you are facing charges for larceny of merchandise from a retailer in Oklahoma City, it is important for you to understand what larceny is under the law, how it pertains to retailers, and how the crime is handled.
Defining Larceny of Merchandise from a Retailer in Oklahoma City
Larceny is simple theft. It is a crime against property. Larceny from a retailer is legally defined as the taking and carrying away of retail goods by fraud or stealth, with the intent to permanently deprive. OUJI-CR 5-104
Larceny can be petit (small) or grand (large). Larceny of merchandise can be either small, involving goods with relatively low values, or large, involving goods worth a great deal.
If you steal a paperback novel, that is petit larceny. If you steal a pair of diamond earrings, that could be considered grand larceny. Larceny of merchandise from a retailer is also classified according to how much the goods involved are worth.
Escalating Penalties for Larceny of Merchandise From a Retailer
Most shoplifters will shoplift more than once. Because of this, Oklahoma law provides escalating penalties for multiple convictions to discourage the behavior.
A first or second conviction for shoplifting from a retailer of goods worth under $1,000 is punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine of $10 to $500, or both. If more than one item is stolen on a first or second conviction, the possible fine increases to between $50 and $500.
Penalties really increase with a third or subsequent conviction. A third or subsequent conviction for shoplifting property worth under $1,000 is punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
If the property involved is worth between $1,000 and $2,500, the crime is a felony in Oklahoma City. If convicted, you could face up to five years in prison.
If the property is worth $15,000 or more, the potential sentence is up to eight years in prison. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1731
The law also allows restitution to the retailer to compensate for lost or damaged merchandise, regardless of the value of the stolen item.
With 3 or more offenses within a 90-day period, the law allows the amounts involved to be added together to allow for increased penalties upon conviction. So, all of a sudden, you could be facing a felony count without intending to.
The Law Also Provides for Civil Actions
Shoplifting by its nature hurts the retailer. Thus, Oklahoma law allows the retailer to pursue a civil action against a defendant. This is in addition to criminal charges.
A retailer can sue a shoplifter in civil court for damages. If the goods are lost or damaged, the retailer can recover the full retail value of the items stolen in addition to attorneys’ fees and costs. Attorneys’ fees and costs by themselves can run into thousands of dollars, making shoplifting an expensive proposition.
If the defendant is a minor child, the child’s parents will be held liable for these amounts in a civil trial. The law also allows punitive damages, which are added to actual damages incurred. These types of damages are meant to punish and deter shoplifters.
A court has a lot of discretion in awarding damages in a civil proceeding and in the sentencing during a criminal proceeding. Courts will sometimes substitute community service hours for some part of the damages incurred in the shoplifting. Community service hours in lieu of money may be helpful in ameliorating the amount of damages.
If you or a loved one is charged with larceny of merchandise from a retailer, you need the help of an Oklahoma City attorney experienced in both criminal and civil law.
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