Proving Intention

The State's Burden

Theft charges vary in degree and penalty. Most cases revolve heavily around intent. In charges of theft, whether from a person or a store or place of business, the state has a substantial burden proving a person knowingly committed an act of theft.

For example, if someone fills their cart, pays for all but one item that is on the bottom of the cart and exits the store, this can readily be viewed as an inadvertent mistake, not shoplifting. This is especially true for those whose criminal records are clean.

In cases where the intention of the person charged is unclear it can be very beneficial to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that the charge is effectively fought and a dismissal sought.

How Serious Is A Theft Charge?

Theft can be a serious charge. Alaska classifies theft in accordance with the value of the property taken.

Theft charges range from misdemeanor fourth degree theft to grand larceny and are as follows:

  • Fourth degree for property valued at under $50
  • Third degree for property valued between $50 and $500
  • Second degree for property valued between $500 and $25,000
  • First degree for property valued at more than $25,000

Previous convictions, surrounding circumstances, the mental state of the person charged and the class of the offense can all affect sentencing, as well as the strength of your defense. Shoplifting, use or possession of access devices and credit card fraud are also types of theft.

Shoplifting: A Charge With Civil Repercussions

Shoplifting charges are not to be taken lightly. If you have been charged with shoplifting you may be liable to the store owner for the retail value of the items up to $1,000, additional penalties of up to hundreds of dollars and any damages that the shoplifting caused.

Parents of juveniles charged and convicted may be liable for up to $500 of the retail value in addition to penalties of hundreds of dollars and the cost of damages the shoplifting caused.

If you are charged with shoplifting charges you may also face civil penalties under Alaska state law.

Working with a lawyer who handles shoplifting and theft cases can help ensure that the appropriate legal steps are taken for first time offenders to avoid having a criminal record. Call attorney Joshua P. Fink in Anchorage to discuss your case or the case of a juvenile in your care. Call 907-274-0493 (toll free 800-657-1136) or email us.