Shoplifting Charges in Alabama

Learn about the laws, penalties and civil consequences of a shoplifting charge in Alabama.

Shoplifting in Alabama is a crime with serious penalties, including potential fines and jail time. In addition to facing criminal penalties, shoplifters can be sued by merchants in civil court to recover damages.

Alabama Shoplifting Laws

Shoplifting is punished as theft in Alabama. A person commits theft by obtaining or exerting unauthorized control over another person’s property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property. Criminal penalties for theft become progressively more stringent as the value of the stolen goods increases.

Merchants and police officers can detain individuals they have a reasonable suspicion to suspect are shoplifting. They can detain the suspects in a reasonable manner, for a reasonable period of time, in order to recover any stolen goods. Criminal and civil penalties for shoplifting are described below.

Alabama Shoplifting Penalties




Third Degree Theft: Theft of property valued at up to $500

Class A misdemeanor under 13A-8-5

Up to one year of jail time and/or a fine up to $6,000

Second Degree Theft: Theft of goods valued between $500 and $2,500; the theft of a firearm or certain other types of item, or theft of property valued from $250 to $2,500 with prior convictions

Class C felony under 13A-8-4

From one year and one day of jail time up to 10 years of jail time and/or a fine up to $15,000 or double the gain to the defendant or loss to the victim as a result of the theft

First Degree Theft: Theft of goods exceeding $2,500 in value

Class B felony under 13A-8-3

Between two and 20 years of jail time and/or a fine up to $30,000

Civil Penalties

Adult shoplifters and the parents or legal guardians of minors who commit shoplifting are civilly liable to victimized merchants. Merchants can sue in civil court and are entitled to the full retail value of the merchandise (if not recovered in sellable condition), expenses for recovery of the merchandise in a fixed amount of $200, and up to $1,000 for attorney fees and court costs.

Pretrial Diversion and Plea Bargains

Some counties in Alabama offer diversion or deferred prosecution programs to certain individuals accused of first-time and low-level crimes. Successful completion of program requirements, which may include activities such as making restitution and performing community service, will result in the criminal charges being dropped.

When diversion is not an option, the accused may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor assigned to the case. Plea bargains may involve receiving lesser charges or reduced sentencing in exchange for a guilty plea.

Learn more about diversion and pretrial options.

Getting Legal Help

Shoplifting is a serious crime with serious consequences in Alabama. If you have been accused of shoplifting, it is in your best interests to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney can help you explore all of your options, such as pursuing diversion programs, raising defenses, and negotiating plea bargains, in order to minimize the consequences of a shoplifting charge.

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