Caught Stealing From Walmart? Here’s What You Should Know

what happens if you steal from walmart

Getting accused of stealing brings stress no one needs. Walmart asset protection doesn’t play around if they suspect you walked out without paying. Maybe it was a rash mishap, maybe desperation. Either way, now you’re scared about what might happen next.

As former public defenders, we’ve represented many folks with retail theft charges. So we understand exactly where you’re sitting. And want to walk you through realistic scenarios not exaggerated accounts floating online. By what we’ve seen, for first offenses under $300, it’s considered petty theft and can land you in jail…over that, you’re in misdemeanor or felony territory.

Yes each case differs, but knowing the legitimate risks allows smart choices today and tomorrow. So breathe deep and keep reading. We’ll explain processes, dispel myths, and discuss ways families and individuals can bounce back stronger. You still have options and rights – don’t forfeit them in resignation or panic.

What Happens if You Steal From Walmart?

Walmart, like many other retailers, has loss prevention personnel to monitor and prevent theft. These individuals may approach you if they suspect you of shoplifting. To detain you, store security usually needs reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe you’ve committed or are about to commit theft.

This could include observing you conceal items, behaving suspiciously, or attempting to leave without paying. If store security believes they have sufficient grounds to detain you, they may escort you to a designated area within the store.

They are not allowed to use excessive force or mistreat you during this process. In some cases, store security may involve local law enforcement if they have strong evidence of theft. However, they must follow proper procedures and respect your rights.

While detained, you still retain certain rights. You have the right to remain silent and not answer questions. You also have the right to request an attorney if you believe your situation may escalate. The store’s policy and local laws dictate how long you can be detained. In most cases, they should not detain you longer than necessary to investigate the situation, including asking questions about the incident and calling the police.

It’s important to note that laws and policies can vary significantly, and any action taken by store security must be within the bounds of the law. Consult with an attorney if you believe your rights have been violated during a detainment.

What Do They Have to Prove to Convict You of Shoplifting Charges?

In a criminal prosecution for shoplifting, the prosecution must prove certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction.

Here are the key elements they typically need to establish:

  • Intent to Deprive: The prosecution must demonstrate that you intended to take or keep merchandise without paying for it. Intent can often be inferred from your actions, such as concealing items or attempting to leave the store.
  • Altering Merchandise: If you altered price tags, packaging, or labels to pay less for an item, this action could also be shoplifting.
  • Exiting the Store: Generally, shoplifting charges apply if you exit the store without paying for the items you’re suspected of stealing. However, intent to steal can still be proven if you were caught concealing items but hadn’t yet exited the store.
  • Value of Items: The prosecution must establish the value of the stolen items. Laws often categorize theft into different degrees based on the items’ value.
  • Witness Testimonies and Evidence: The prosecution may rely on witness testimonies from store employees or security personnel who observed the alleged shoplifting. Surveillance footage and other evidence may also be presented.
  • Defenses: Your defense attorney can challenge the evidence and argue against the prosecution’s case. They may present evidence that shows a lack of intent, mistaken identity, or other factors that could cast doubt on the charges.

To ensure a fair trial and proper legal representation, consult a qualified criminal defense attorney if you face shoplifting charges. They can guide you through the legal process and help protect your rights.

What Are the Legal Penalties for Shoplifting at Walmart?

Getting caught stealing from Walmart can result in criminal charges. Shoplifting is considered a crime; if convicted, you may face serious legal consequences. These charges can vary depending on the value of the stolen goods and your criminal record.

In Colorado, theft crimes are charged as follows:

  • Less than $300 — Petty theft punishable by up to 10 days in jail
  • $300 to less than $1,000 — Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 120 days in jail
  • $1,000 to less than $2,000 — Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail
  • $2,000 to less than $5,000 — Class 6 felony punishable by up to one year to 18 months in prison
  • $5,000 to less than $20,000 — Class 5 felony punishable by up to one to three years in prison
  • $20,000 to less than $100,000 — Class 4 felony punishable by up to

The higher the value of stolen goods, the more severe the criminal charges you may face. If convicted, You may also face collateral consequences in rebuilding your reputation, facing a criminal record, and finding new opportunities after being caught stealing from Walmart.

What to Do if You’ve Been Arrested for Shoplifting at Walmart

Facing an arrest for shoplifting at Walmart can be a daunting experience, but it’s important to remain composed and take the right steps to protect your rights and future.

Here’s a guide on what to do if you find yourself in this situation:

  1. Remain Calm and Cooperative: Stay calm and cooperative with law enforcement and store personnel. Avoid resisting arrest or arguing with the officers, as this could potentially escalate the situation.
  2. Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent: Remember that you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court, so it’s often wise to avoid making statements without the presence of an attorney.
  3. Contact an Attorney: As soon as possible, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney specializing in shoplifting cases. An attorney from a reputable law firm like Right Law Group in Colorado Springs can provide legal advice, explain your rights, and guide you through the legal process.
  4. Document the Details: Make a mental or written note of the events leading up to and during your arrest. Interactions with store security, law enforcement officers, and potential witnesses can be crucial for building a strong defense.
  5. Avoid Making Any Admissions: While interacting with law enforcement, be careful not to make any admissions of guilt. Even seemingly innocuous statements could be used against you later.
  6. Gather Evidence: Work with your attorney to gather evidence supporting your case. This could include surveillance footage, witness statements, or evidence demonstrating a lack of intent to shoplift.
  7. Follow Legal Advice: Listen to the guidance provided by your attorney. They will help you navigate the legal process, including court appearances, negotiations with the prosecution, and potentially mounting a defense at trial.

If you’ve been arrested for shoplifting at Walmart or any other location, don’t face the legal process alone. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Right Law Group are here to provide you with dedicated representation and protect your rights.

Our firm has handled dozens of shoplifting cases and understands the complexities involved. Contact us today for a free consultation and take the first step toward building a strong defense strategy.

Author Bio

alexis austin

Alexis Austin is the CEO and Managing Partner of Right Law Group, a Colorado Springs criminal defense law firm she founded in 2018. With almost a decade of experience in criminal defense, she has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including DUIs, misdemeanors, felonies, domestic violence, and other criminal charges.

Alexis received her Juris Doctor from the University of Denver — Sturm College of Law and is a member of the Colorado Bar Association. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named among the “Top 40 Under 40” in 2018 by The National Trial Lawyers and featured in Authority Magazine’s “Top Lawyers” series.

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