Shoplifting Charges in Utah

Learn about the laws, penalties and civil consequences of a shoplifting charge in Utah. Find out if you can avoid a conviction and criminal record.

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Shoplifting, referred to as retail theft, is a serious offense under Utah law. Criminal penalties for retail theft include possible jail time and fines. In addition, Utah law allows victimized merchants to sue shoplifters in civil court for damages.

Shoplifting in Utah

Shoplifting, referred to as retail theft, is defined broadly in Utah. Shoplifting includes: taking or concealing merchandise offered for sale without paying, altering price tags or labels, and transferring merchandise into a different container, with the intention of depriving the merchant of the retail value (Utah Code Ann. 1953 § 76-6-602). Merchants have the right to request that customers keep merchandise in full view, and can detain suspected shoplifters for a reasonable period of time. Criminal and civil penalties for shoplifting are described below.

Utah Shoplifting Criminal Penalties

Charge

Classification

Penalty

Theft of property less than $500

Class B Misdemeanor

Jail term of up to six months and/or fines up to $1,000

Theft of property valued at $500 or more and less than $1,500

Class A misdemeanor

Jail term of up to one year and/or fines up to $2,500

Theft of property valued at $1,500 or more and less than $5,000

Third degree felony

Jail term of up to five years and/or fines up to $5,000

Theft with two prior related convictions in the previous 10 years

Third degree felony

Jail term of up to five years and/or fines up to $5,000

Theft of property valued at $5,000 or more

Second degree felony

Jail up to 15 years and/or fines up to  $10,000

Theft of a firearm

Second degree felony

Jail up to 15 years and/or fines up to  $10,000

Civil Liability

Adult shoplifters can be sued by victimized merchants for actual damages, a penalty in the amount of the retail price (up to $1,000), a penalty between $100 and $500, court costs, and reasonable attorney fees. Parents or guardians of minor shoplifters are jointly liable with the minor for actual damages, a penalty in the amount of the retail price (up to $500), a penalty between $50 and $500, court costs, and reasonable attorney fees.

Diversion Programs and Plea Bargaining

Prosecutors can offer certain individuals accused of first-time or low-level crimes an alternative to prosecution via diversion programs. If an accused individual completes the diversion program requirements, which could include restitution, community service, or counseling, the criminal charges will be dropped. Diversion programs are typically available at the discretion of the prosecutor and court. 

If a diversion program is not available, the accused may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor. Plea bargains usually involve accepting lesser charges or reduced sentencing in exchange for a guilty plea.

Learn more about diversion and pretrial options.

Getting Legal Help

If you have been accused of shoplifting in Utah, you should strongly consider getting legal help. An experienced Utah criminal defense attorney can assist you in understanding all of your options, including pursuing diversion programs, raising defenses, and negotiating plea bargains, in order to minimize the consequences of a shoplifting charge.

by: , Attorney

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