Colorado Springs felony defense attorneys want you to be aware of a new law that specifically targets high-level theft from retail stores.
The bill, which was just signed into law at the end of last month, increases the penalties if you are engaged in retail theft with the end goal of selling the merchandise you steal.
This is bigger than simply shoplifting, which often can be defended as a misunderstanding or at least in some cases pleaded down to a lesser charge with no jail time, particularly if you have no prior criminal record.
The cases targeted by this law, however, reportedly cost state retailers more than $500 million annually.
In a lot of these cases, thieves don’t work alone. What often happens is one person may trip the false alarm. Another person then runs – or even walks – out with the merchandise while employees are distracted. It’s all about diversions. False alarms are one way. Another is staging a fight, setting off a fire alarm or simply distracting the store employee or employees with a lengthy question or some other ruse.
But what this law is toughen the penalties for carrying out those type of distractions.
It’s still a little sticky, legally speaking, because technically speaking, if you didn’t walk out with the merchandise, you’re not responsible for the theft. Prosecutors would have to show that you conspired to make the theft happen and/or that you benefited from the subsequent sale of the stolen goods.
And those goods have been known to cross the gamut – everything from diapers and laundry detergent to electronics and jeans.The law also targets specific tools known to have been used in the thefts – such as foil-lined clothing and wire cutters.
Other similar laws have already been passed in New Jersey, New Mexico, Texas, California, Delaware, Nevada and Arizona.
Across the country, organized retail theft is said to cost some $35 billion. That’s a staggering number (and it’s likely that lobbyists pushing for the bill are the ones citing that statistic) but there are very specific criteria that have to be met in order for an individual to be prosecuted under this law.
If you have been arrested for retail theft, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible following your arrest.