Muskogee Lawyer BlogLarceny from a Retailer: Unpacking Oklahoma Shoplifting Laws

larceny from a retailerLarceny is simple theft. It is a crime against property. Larceny from a retailer is a fancy way of describing shoplifting under Oklahoma law. Larceny from a retailer is legally defined as the taking and carrying away of retail goods by fraud or stealth, with the intent to permanently deprive. OUJI-CR 5-104

Basic Differences in Larceny

In Oklahoma, theft can be either petit larceny or grand larceny depending on the value of goods stolen.

Oklahoma also has a number of laws covering larceny in specific situations. Larceny from a retailer is one such classification. The district attorney may choose to charge you under any or all the statutes that may apply if you are caught shoplifting in Muskogee.

Penalties for Larceny from a Retailer

Shoplifting is a crime of opportunity, and people engage in it for varying reasons ranging from need to thrill. And most shoplifters will shoplift more than once. Oklahoma law provides escalating penalties for multiple convictions to discourage the behavior.

A first or second conviction for shoplifting goods worth under $1,000 is punishable by up to 30 days in  jail, a fine between $10 and $500, or both.

However, if more than one item is stolen on a first or second conviction, the possible fine increases to between $50 and $500.

A third or subsequent conviction for shoplifting property worth under $1,000 is punishable by up to a year in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

If the property is worth between $1,000 and $2,500, the crime is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

If the property is worth $15,000 or more, the defendant could face up to eight years in prison. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1731

Any defendant convicted of shoplifting in Oklahoma may be ordered to pay restitution to the retailer to compensate the retailer for their lost merchandise.

If there are three or more offenses within a 90-day period, the law allows the amounts to be added together to allow for increased penalties upon conviction.

The Law Also Provides for Civil Actions

A retailer can sue a shoplifter in civil court for damages in addition to seeking criminal charges. If the goods are lost or damaged, the retailer can recover the full retail value of the items stolen in addition to attorneys’ fees and costs. Attorneys’ fees and costs by themselves can run into thousands of dollars.

If the defendant is a child, his or her parents will be held liable for these amounts in a civil trial.

In addition, the court allows punitive or exemplary damages. These damages are tied to the defendant’s actions rather than to the value of the items. They are meant to punish, and tend to be on the high side as a result.

Courts have great discretion in both the criminal proceeding and the civil proceeding regarding sentencing and damages. In lieu of part of the damages, the court can order that a defendant perform public service hours. The number of public service hours is tied to the damage caused, and is calculated at minimum wage. The total amount must fall between $50 and $500. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1731.1

Shoplifting convictions can be very expensive. If you or a loved one is charged with larceny from a retailer, you need the help of an attorney experienced in both criminal and civil law. Your attorney can help bring the matter to resolution quickly, avoiding high attorneys’ fees and costs.

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