Unlike some other states, Kentucky does not distinguish shoplifting as a discrete form of criminal theft that has its own definition under state law. Because of that, state criminal courts prosecute shoplifting under the same statutes as standard theft offenses, meaning that a conviction for stealing merchandise from a retail store could result in serious misdemeanor-level or felony-level sanctions.
Understanding the nature of this offense and contesting it in court could be made much easier with help from a Florence shoplifting lawyer. A dependable theft attorney who has helped individuals like you through similar situations before could work minimize your risk of severe repercussions and advocate for your rights throughout each stage of the case.
Shoplifting Sanctions Under State Law
Since shoplifting is treated as a form of “theft by unlawful taking or disposition,” the penalties from a shoplifting conviction are the same as those outlined for theft charges under Kentucky Revised Statutes § 514.030. Importantly, state legislators made changes to theft law effective June 29, 2021 that reclassify theft of between $500 and $1,000 as a Class A misdemeanor. This statute previously treated all theft offenses involving more than $500 of goods and/or services as felony offenses. Shoplifting and theft offenses involving less than $500 of merchandise remain Class B misdemeanors under the updated statute.
A person convicted of three or more instances of Class A misdemeanor theft—including individuals convicted of such offenses stemming from acts of shoplifting—will face penalties commensurate with a Class D felony for fourth and subsequent convictions of that same offense. This means it is often crucial for Florence residents who have been convicted of shoplifting in the past to seek help from a skilled attorney when fighting new charges.
Detention of Suspected Shoplifters by Store Personnel
Under the law, both security officers and floor workers employed in retail stores have the authority to detain individuals they suspect have engaged in shoplifting. The only explicit restrictions imposed on this authority are that the detention generally must take place on the premises of the store the shoplifter allegedly took merchandise from, and the suspected shoplifter can only be detained for “a reasonable amount of time.”
This section of state law also lists specific reasons that a store employee or security officer may detain a suspected shoplifter, which include:
- Requesting that the suspected shoplifter identify themselves
- Verifying the suspected shoplifter’s self-identification
- Making a “reasonable inquiry” about the suspected shoplifter’s actions and whether they have unpurchased merchandise on their person
- Recovering any goods allegedly taken by the suspected shoplifter
- Contacting law enforcement to detain the suspected shoplifter, or to surrender a minor suspected of shoplifting to their parent(s) or legal guardian(s)
An experienced shoplifting lawyer in Florence could offer further clarification about what rights the store owners and the individuals accused of shoplifting have in this kind of situation.
Seek Help from a Florence Shoplifting Attorney
Depending on the monetary value of items involved and your prior history of similar offenses, a shoplifting allegation could lead to serious criminal penalties and might potentially qualify as a felony offense. Even if the charge against you is classified as a misdemeanor, you should still think twice before trying to move forward with your case defense without retaining knowledgeable legal counsel.
A Florence shoplifting lawyer’s assistance could make a world of difference when it comes to protecting your rights in the face of theft allegations. Call today for a private consultation.