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Does an Iowa shoplifting charge lead to a slap on the wrist?

On Behalf of | Aug 1, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Iowa has criminal laws against all of the common forms of theft. From fraud and embezzlement to burglary and robbery, there are laws imposing specific penalties for various different kinds of theft offenses.

Of all the forms of theft possible, shoplifting may be the most common. It is also an offense that too many people in Iowa fail to take seriously. Many people think of shoplifting as a minor offense that isn’t subject to much attention from law enforcement officers or prosecutors.

However, shoplifting is far from just an impulse crime committed by young people. Iowa treats shoplifting as a serious criminal offense and may even pursue felony charges against the individual accused of theft from a retail shop. What kinds of penalties are possible if you get accused of a shoplifting offense in Iowa?

There are multiple categories of shoplifting under state law

The penalties that you will face for shoplifting allegations will depend on the full retail value of the items involved. If loss prevention professionals stop you on your way to your vehicle because you tried on a pair of sunglasses and then pushed them up on your head before continuing shopping, you will likely face a misdemeanor charge. The lowest category of shoplifting is theft in the fifth degree, which is a simple misdemeanor. The possible penalties include up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $625.

Items worth more than $300 but less than $750 will lead to theft in the fourth degree charges. This is a serious misdemeanor that can lead to up to a year in jail and a fine of as much as $1,875. Once the total value of the items exceeds $1,500, the charges you face will be felony offenses. You could face a class “D” or “C” felony, which could mean as long as 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

How do you defend yourself?

The items allegedly involved, the layout of the store and your personal shopping habits can all influence your options for a defense following a shoplifting arrest. Some people can show that they simply made a mistake, possibly because their children distracted them. Others may need to challenge the procedure followed by loss prevention specialists when they exited the store.

There are different possible defense strategies that can help those accused of shoplifting and other theft offenses. Learning more about the evidence gathered in your case and the penalties that might apply can help you plan the best possible criminal defense strategy.