Criminal Law

Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.

Ask a Lawyer,
Get an Answer ASAP!

Criminal Law
This answer was rated:

This question is about fifth degree theft in Iowa. This

person was charged with fifth...
This question is about fifth degree theft in Iowa. This person was charged with fifth degree theft, arrested at Shopco for shoplifting of $27 worth of merchandise. Arrested inside the store and the items were given back to shopco right then. So items really never left the store. Its not the store that is pressing the charges. The store in a letter from shopco themselves has only requested this person pay for one item that was removed from package. And the money they are saying this person owes is not for the item itself but the wages for having to repackage and return to where they got it for being opened. Basically like sending them a bill in the mail payable to shopco. What does the state have to prove to be found guilty?
Show More
Show Less
Ask Your Own Criminal Law Question
Answered in 9 minutes by:
7/22/2017
Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 28,108
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
Verified

Hi,

I'm Zoey.

I'm reviewing your post. Please be patient as I may need to research for you, and it also takes time to compose and type a reply.

Ask Your Own Criminal Law Question

Were the police involved in the arrest or only store security? Because this sounds like the store is proceeding with a civil settlement offer instead of having him prosecuted. If so, if he pays the fine, the odds are better than good that criminal charges will not be brought.

Every state's civil law does allow for a shoplifter to be fined well in excess of the property he stole to help defray the cost of the store's theft insurance, surveillance system, security guards and loss prevention department. Here's the statute below that allows for the imposition of the civil penalty.

48-701. LIABILITY FOR REMOVING OR CONCEALING MERCHANDISE — RETAIL THEFT.

Any person who knowingly removes merchandise from a merchant’s premises without paying therefor, or knowingly conceals merchandise to avoid paying therefor, or knowingly commits retail theft, shall be civilly liable to the merchant for the retail value of the merchandise, plus damages of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250), costs of suit and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Ask Your Own Criminal Law Question
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
the police were involved and this person was charged with 5th degree theft. And as I stated the store sent this person a bill. The merchandise never left the store and the store was given back the merchandise at the time of arrest. The bill was for the one item that was removed from its package. Not for the item, but for the wages and expense of returning the item. I am not sure where you got the idea of any store security. I don't think store security is authorized to arrest and place people in jail anyway. Pretty sure an officer of the law has to do that in Iowa. Not even sure they have store security. No idea. However back to my question. What does the state have to prove to be found guilty? And its not the store pressing the charges.

Thank you for clarifying.

Store personnel have the right to detain a shoplifting suspect. They can search them, hold them for the police, or they can photograph them and take information from them and ask them to sign paperwork banning them from the store, leaving the police out of it altogether. As the store sent a bill I put those two facts together and inferred that this could be going forward as a civil case only. They are entitled to proceed civilly and/or criminally.

Goods don't need to actually leave the store for someone to be arrested for shoplifting. It's enough to get a shoplifter arrested if the facts and circumstances show that he intended to leave the store with the goods. So if, for example, a surveillance camera shows someone tucking some merchandise under his coat, he can be arrested if he passes the register and heads for the door, because the facts make out his intent to leave the store without paying for the items.

All merchants are entitled to fine shoplifters in an amount in excess of the property stolen or damaged. Theft insurance and security provisions are expensive and that's the reason it's allowed. The amount of the fine is determined by the statute. In Idaho, the fine can be up to $200.

As to what the state has to prove, shoplifting is a theft offense. I have linked you to the law. There are many different theft scenarios in the statute, separately numbered. If the state can prove the elements of any one of the numbered subsections beyond a reasonable doubt he would be able to convict a defendant.

The state would only have to prove that the defendant took control of the merchant's property with the intent to deprive the merchant of that property.

Ask Your Own Criminal Law Question
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
There is where I have a problem with the law. I do not believe anyone can prove what someones intentions were. So that being said there is no defense to this charge as I see it. The prosecutor is gonna say your intentions were to steal it. There is no way to actually prove any different due to intentions are actions that have not happened yet. And as far as being able to read someones mind that is impossible. Unless your the Court or a prosecutor.
My biggest issue is that the store is only requiring this person to pay $119 for a $7 item which was removed from the package. Their letter states that is for like you said their ins. wages paid to employees to repackage ect. Not the actually item since the store recovered everything. My thinking would be the items never left the store, if they pay what the store is requesting from them, the $119, then where is the theft? The store has all items and has also been paid in the amount they came up with. You would think the store would have say if they wanted to press charges or not.

You may disagree with the law, and that is, of course, your right. If you feel strongly about it, take it up with your legislator. But meanwhile, the law disagrees with you, and a shoplifter has to comply with it or potentially face consequences. That said, will the store actually sue him for $119 if he fails to pay the fine? Probably not. But the law gives them the right to do so if they wish.

If he does pay the $119, he is admitting to the theft, and he can be punished separately in criminal court for the unlawful act itself.

As for intent, all the prosecutor can do is to put the evidence of intent to steal out there. It's the jury that has to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the intent was made out by the prosecution. If they feel unsure of the intent, they would have to find the defendant not guilty.

Ask Your Own Criminal Law Question
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Like I said they never left the store or went past the register. I was a child once and remember a time when I tried to steal something. I had it in my pants and everything. Walk around for quite some time to get the nerves up to walk out with it in my pants. After about an hour I decided I couldn't do it and put the item back. Then to think if i had been stopped while it was in my pants I could have been charged for theft. For my intentions. Because I don't think I could have found anyone to testify that could see the future and say had you let him be for an hour or so he would have put it back. Bot***** *****ne is in my book until it leaves the store its not theft.
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Its already in criminal court Zoey. Thats why I asked the question.
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
its a misdemeanor charge. What Jury?

Varies from state to state. Some states allow jury trials even for infractions. Others only for felonies. Still others for only serious felonies.

For jury, substitute "finder of fact" at trial.

Ask Your Own Criminal Law Question

As for what you feel is more right, there is more than one way to steal an item from a store. You can, for example, switch tags and pay for the item. That's theft too.

I don't know what this person is alleged to have done to make out the elements of the crime. I do know that he doesn't have to leave the store to be convicted if the finder of fact believes beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to steal the item. If the judge doubts the intent, he'll acquit.

Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 28,108
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
Verified
Zoey_ JD and 87 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Ask your own question now
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Okay so really as to my question there isn't really anything the state has to prove to be found guilty other then say you intended to steal it. And there is no way to prove any different since intentions are acts that have not happened yet. So you would have to prove what the future would hold. Which is not possible. Oh how our laws are so wrong. Pretty soon people will be arrested because the officer says I intended to speed to work tomorrow and next week I intend to rob a bank. Guilty 20 yrs in prison and didn't leave my house.

Don't forget the defendant has no burden of proof. He never has to prove what he did or didn't intend. It's the prosecutor who has to prove intent in any intent crime and must do so beyond a reasonable doubt. If he can't do it, that's great. The defendant wins.

Sometimes a person's intent -- whether criminal or otherwise -- is perfectly obvious. You're correct that you cannot prove it with 100% certainty. But the law has never required proof beyond a shadow of a doubt, only proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Ask Your Own Criminal Law Question
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I guess I am factoring in the Court we are in here. I am so use to the court appointed attorneys around here always putting the Defendants on stand. Basically saying you need to prove your innocents. An honest prosecutor and an honest Judge would help a little. Won't find them here. I can prove that without saying a thing. The documents speak for themselves. But nobody cares around here unless it is themselves they are being dishonest with. The older I get them more I can see how selfish people really are. Scarey.

Yes, I've answered enough of your questions to know what has shaped your perspective. I was trained to keep my clients off of the stand wherever possible -- why make them take on a burden that they never have to assume. But almost all of my clients wanted to testify at their trials.

Ask Your Own Criminal Law Question
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Maybe there. Here the judge and prosecutor are basically one in the same. You would have to prove you had no intentions of stealing. The charge alone is all they need here to show intent.
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Public defenders here and court appointed attorneys here put all their defendants on stand. Can't remember a case where they didn't.
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
your right by doing this it just makes the prosecution have less to prove themselves. the defendant just did most of it for them.

Most judges I know favor prosecutors here too. But not all, fortunately.

Ask Your Own Criminal Law Question
Ask Zoey_ JD Your Own Question
Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 28,108
28,108 Satisfied Customers
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.

Zoey_ JD is online now

A new question is answered every 9 seconds

How JustAnswer works:

  • Ask an ExpertExperts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional AnswerVia email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction GuaranteeRate the answer you receive.

JustAnswer in the News:

Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.

What Customers are Saying:

Your Expert advise has provided insight on a difficult situation. Thank you so much for the prompt response. I will definitely recommend your website to my friends.

NormaPensacola, FL

Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises!

Gary B.Edmond, OK

My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer.

EricRedwood City, CA

I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight.

MichaelWichita, KS

PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent.

Three H.Houston, TX

Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!!

ElaineAtlanta, GA

It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem.

TonyApopka, FL

< Previous | Next >

Meet the Experts:

Ely

Ely

Counselor at Law

3,175 satisfied customers

Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.

P. Simmons

P. Simmons

Lawyer

2,014 satisfied customers

16 yrs. of experience including criminal law.

LawTalk

LawTalk

Lawyer

1,815 satisfied customers

30 years legal experience

RobertJDFL

RobertJDFL

Lawyer

1,812 satisfied customers

Experienced in multiple areas of the law.

Nate

Nate

Lawyer

1,736 satisfied customers

Over 10 years of criminal defense practice.

Marsha411JD

Marsha411JD

Lawyer

1,623 satisfied customers

Licensed attorney with 29 yrs. exp. in criminal law

AttorneyTom

AttorneyTom

Lawyer

1,242 satisfied customers

Attorney

< Previous | Next >

Related Criminal Law Questions
I was arrested for a misdemeanor theft/ shoplifting, I do
I was arrested for a misdemeanor theft/ shoplifting, I do not recall being read my miranda rights , do you think I would have a case to get it thrown out.. Also noticed on some of my paperwork that th… read more
Legalwriter
Legalwriter
Attorney
Juris Doctor
201 satisfied customers
I am in court for criminal mistief in the state of indiana
i am in court for criminal mistief in the state of indiana marion county. I am illeged to break a windo . I am being charged with a felony because the total cost is said to be over 2500 dollars. I wan… read more
MShore Law
MShore Law
Doctoral Degree
1,233 satisfied customers
I have a question about procedure in criminal court in
I have a question about procedure in criminal court in Texas; specifically if there is any way to request a pretrial hearing prior to indicment of a felony … read more
Ray
Ray
Lawyer
Doctoral Degree
30,259 satisfied customers
Is it not uncommon for criminal court judges or their
Is it not uncommon for criminal court judges or their court's administration (e.g. bailiffs) to manipulate the only clock on the wall in the courtroom (e.g. set it purposely ahead of or behind the act… read more
PaulmoJD
PaulmoJD
Attorney At Law
Doctoral Degree
106 satisfied customers
I had a criminal court hearing and was sentenced, but was
I had a criminal court hearing and was sentenced, but was never sworn in can this be thrown out… read more
Nisha Jones, Esq.
Nisha Jones, Esq.
Juris Doctorate
1,354 satisfied customers
I have a court da on October 30 for a misdemeanor without a
I have a court da on October 30 for a misdemeanor without a bail and they didn't took my passport, can I leave the country? … read more
Nisha Jones, Esq.
Nisha Jones, Esq.
Juris Doctorate
1,354 satisfied customers
If someone has multiple misdemeanors for theft and driving
If someone has multiple misdemeanors for theft and driving while barred. And is on probationAnd they leave the state Is there a time limit before they can return Or are they a fugitive and will. BE in… read more
LegalKnowledge
LegalKnowledge
Juris Doctor
27,495 satisfied customers
What is the punishment for a class misdemeanor for theft of
what is the punishment for a class b misdemeanor for theft of lost or mislaid property for first time offender … read more
LegalKnowledge
LegalKnowledge
Juris Doctor
27,495 satisfied customers
My son has to appear in court on a misdemeanor. doesn't have
hi, my son has to appear in court on a misdemeanor. doesn't have any record and I guess did not move when the police asked him to. we bailed him and he has to appear in court 9/26. Should he have a la… read more
Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD
JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
28,108 satisfied customers
12 years ago i received an A misdemeanor for theft but only
12 years ago i received an A misdemeanor for theft but only last year i found that the court house had me filed as a felony for 12 years!!! i never understood why i was rejected from fire departments … read more
Dwayne B.
Dwayne B.
Juris Doctor
28,500 satisfied customers
I was tried in a criminal case in 2011 for grand theft from
I was tried in a criminal case in 2011 for grand theft from my employer. My adjudication was withheld, I served 1 year in. Work release I am paying restitution and I am on probation. The company I wor… read more
Expert James
Expert James
Doctoral Degree
11,541 satisfied customers
During my Bench Trial in Federal Court on a misdemeanor
During my Bench Trial in Federal Court on a misdemeanor charge of Simple Assault, I testified in my own defense. I would have made a more aggressive defense, but I thought certain points were best lef… read more
Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD
JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
28,108 satisfied customers
I am trying to find out if misdemeanor theft can be expunged
I am trying to find out if misdemeanor theft can be expunged in MD … read more
Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD
JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
28,108 satisfied customers
I have been charged with a misdemeanor for retail theft, and
I have been charged with a misdemeanor for retail theft, and when I showed up for my court date, the judge rescheduled my court date and told me to get a lawyer. Should I go with a lawyer or a public … read more
LegalPro54
LegalPro54
Doctoral Degree
1,258 satisfied customers
In Texas, in a Class Misdemeanor criminal case where the
In Texas , in a Class B Misdemeanor criminal case where the defendant is representing themselves.Is it correct that the defendant can request from the DA any offense reports, any designated documents,… read more
lucy7368
lucy7368
Juris Doctor
763 satisfied customers
During trial and post trial, court will document the
During trial and post trial, court will document the profession, current employer, family details etc. Do you think current employer will come to know about court proceedings, if they not conducting c… read more
LegalKnowledge
LegalKnowledge
Juris Doctor
27,495 satisfied customers
Second opinion] During trial and post trial, court will
Second opinion] During trial and post trial, court will document the profession, current employer, family details etc. Do you think current employer will come to know about court proceedings, if they … read more
Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD
JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
28,108 satisfied customers
Originally a Phoenix Municipal Criminal misdemeanor, I was
Originally a Phoenix Municipal Criminal misdemeanor, I was convicted at trial. Sent case to Superior Court of Arizona. Appeal was affirmed. Now I would like to raise an Ineffective Assistance of Couns… read more
Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD
JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
28,108 satisfied customers

DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

Show MoreShow Less

Ask Your Question

x