When does shoplifting become robbery under California Law? When can things escalate to more serious felony charges like burglary, or felony theft? It seems that many people who are not career criminals have often times been caught for shoplifting whether it be a teenager stealing some gum or a mother stealing baby formula to feed their child. In California, a conviction for shoplifting is usually a misdemeanor and at times an experienced criminal defense attorney can try and obtain some type of diversion deal from a prosecutor where the person arrested has a small and/or no prior record. Diversion or deferred entry of judgment essentially means that no conviction is entered against a person for a certain amount of time (usually 18 months) and if that person successfully completes the conditions of the probationary period, the charges will be dismissed and there will be no conviction on a person’s record. Problems arise when a shoplifter attempts to steal a very expensive item and/or struggles with a security guard or store employee in an attempt to avoid being detained.
When a Shoplifter Becomes a Robber Under CA Law
Under California Penal Code section 211, a person is guilty of committing the crime of Robbery when they take the property of another by means of force or fear. In 1983, the California Court of Appeal found in the case of People v. Estes (1983) 147 Cal.App.3d 23 , 194 Cal.Rptr. 909, that a shoplifter is guilty of the crime of robbery if they use force or fear to escape a store after the taking of the property. California courts have explained that the force needed to be convicted of an Estes robbery must be more than the incidental touching necessary to take the property. See People v. Garcia (1996) 45 Cal.App.4th 1242, 1246