Are you worried about being charged with shoplifting at Walmart?
Whether it’s the Walmart Supercenter on West Esplanade Street or the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Williams Boulevard, Walmarts in Kenner, Louisiana deal with shoplifting in a swift (and strict) manner.
To avoid the worst, it’s best to understand shoplifting laws in Kenner, Louisiana, Walmart’s policies on shoplifting, and how criminal defense lawyers can help.
Read on to learn about each.
Shoplifting: What Is It?
Shoplifting involves taking valuable items from others without their consent or through fraudulent means. It’s a form of theft that involves the intent to permanently remove valuable items.
Although putting a candy bar in your pocket and walking out of the store is a form of shoplifting, it’s not the only one. It also includes deceptive actions within a store that show clear shoplifting intent. This can range from removing the original price tag to taking an item out of its original packaging.
Shoplifting is punished everywhere in the U.S. However, each state has its own slightly different shoplifting laws.
Shoplifting Laws in Kenner, Louisiana
In Kenner, Jefferson Parish, and the Greater New Orleans area, shoplifting (often) leads to civil and criminal penalties.
The Walmart in Kenner, Louisiana pursue civil penalties that usually result in repaying the retail value of the shoplifted goods plus a fine between $50 and $500.
The state government hands out criminal penalties that usually mean fines and incarceration (either in parish jails or state prisons).
In Louisiana, RS 14:67 shows how the criminal penalties increase as the value of the shoplifted goods increase. The punishment for shoplifting a $2,000 laptop is going to be a lot more than the punishment for stealing $50 worth of groceries.
More specifically, the penalties are as follows:
If the value of the items is under $1,000, then it’s a misdemeanor charge with up to six months of jail time, a $1,000 fine, or both.
If the value of the items is between $1,000 and $5,000, then it’s a felony charge with up to five years jail time, a $3,000 fine, or both.
If the value of the items is under $5,000 and $25,000, then it’s a felony charge with up to 10 years jail time, a $10,000 fine, or both.
If the value of the items is more than $25,000, then it’s a felony charge with up to 20 years of jail time, a $50,000 fine, or both.
That being said, the misdemeanor charge can be raised to a felony if you have two previous convictions for theft. In that case, the penalty rises from six months in jail to two years in jail and a $1,000 fine to a $2,000 fine.
Walmart’s Policy Towards Shoplifting
Walmarts in Kenner, Louisiana, actively try to prevent shoplifting in four main ways:
- Using surveillance cameras
- Attaching alarms to merchandise
- Employing Loss Prevention Officers to spot suspicious activity
- Employing Asset Protection Customer Hosts to check receipts
When Walmart catches an alleged shoplifter, then you’ll probably be dealing with a Walmart shoplifting lawsuit.
If the retail value of the items is low, they usually encourage them to put the items back. Security might also take your photo and ban you from the store for 24 hours or more.
If the retail value of the items is high, then they can press charges.
Most likely, security will detain you while they call the police. Since they’re not police officers, they can’t force you to say anything — so it’s a best practice to stay silent. Alongside that, don’t sign anything.
When police officers arrive, you are required to say basic things (name, address, etc.) but not much more. Again, silence is the best policy lest you say something that could be used as evidence against you.
For small shoplifting offenses, officers often write up a citation for shoplifting at Walmart. This means you get a shoplifting ticket but no arrest. However, you will get a court date.
For larger shoplifting offenses, they may place you under arrest — in which case; it’s best to stay calm, say little, sign nothing, and request a criminal defense lawyer.
Either way, a shoplifting offense will result in a court date. You can appear alone or hire a criminal defense lawyer to help you.
Shoplifting at Walmart: How Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help You Avoid Penalties
At your court date, the shoplifting charges against you will be read aloud. Whether you plead guilty or not guilty, a great criminal defense lawyer can help you.
Criminal defense lawyers who specialize in shoplifting can negotiate with the prosecutor to either reduce the shoplifting penalties or dismiss them entirely.
Reducing the penalties means a lighter punishment — smaller fines, shorter jail sentences, or both. Or, it means only pleading guilty to a lesser charge.
A dismissal of charges is possible through a pretrial diversion program. For first-time offenders, this is particularly helpful.
Most pretrial diversion programs involve following a zero-tolerance lawbreaking policy and participating in community service. When both are completed, your shoplifting charges get dismissed.
Not only that, but two years later, you can expunge the charge from your criminal record, so it’s permanently removed.
Pleading Not Guilty
Those who plead not guilty and go to trial can also benefit from a criminal defense lawyer.
Defense lawyers know how to create a convincing case in your favor. For example, they can talk about your age, the nature of the stolen goods, the reasoning behind it, and more.
They are also effective at poking holes in the “intent to steal” aspect of shoplifting.
Remember, it’s the prosecutor’s job to prove without a reasonable doubt that you (or a loved one) intended to shoplift and then shoplifted. If the defense lawyer creates reasonable doubt by showing the “intent to steal” is flimsy, then it’s easier to drop the charges.
Do You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?
Shoplifting in Louisiana can lead to serious consequences. If you’re convicted for shoplifting at Walmart, it can affect your future ability to get a job or secure a loan alongside the fines and incarceration.
That’s why it’s essential to get a criminal defense lawyer to help you navigate the judicial system and get the charge dismissed or reduced.
With 17 years of experience as a criminal defense lawyer, Carl Barkemeyer is your best bet of getting out of a shoplifting charge in Kenner, Louisiana. Based in Louisiana himself, Carl is available every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Reach out today to see how he can help.