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What to know about Minnesota shoplifting charges

It is possible that you may face allegations of shoplifting, whether legitimate or not. If this ever happens to you, it is important to know as much as possible about Minnesota shoplifting laws. A shoplifting conviction can penalize you with expensive fines and even time behind bars. 

However, it can be difficult to read the entire text of complex law. Here is a basic overview of Minnesota law regarding shoplifting and the corresponding punishments. 

Theft and criminal penalties

Minnesota actually does not have a specific shoplifting statute. Instead, shoplifting falls under the general theft statute. The potential penalties depend on several factors, including the value of the property:

  • Property less than $500: Fine of $1,000 and 90 days of jail time
  • Property between $500 and $1,000: Fine of $3,000 and one year of jail time
  • Property between $1,000 and $5,000: Fine of $10,000 and five years of imprisonment
  • Property between $5,000 and $35,000: Fine of $20,000 and 10 years of imprisonment
  • Property more than $35,000: Fine of $100,000 and 20 years of imprisonment

These are the maximum penalties based on property value alone. The exact punishments may differ depending on criminal history or other details of the case.

Possession of shoplifting gear

Additionally, Minnesota specifically outlaws possessing any device, instrument or gear to assist in shoplifting or disable electronic surveillance systems. The possible consequences include a fine of $5,000 and three years of imprisonment.

Civil liability

Minnesota recognizes the right of property owners to hold shoplifters civilly liable for theft. If you are guilty of shoplifting, you may owe the merchant the value of the stolen goods in addition to punitive damages.

Diversion programs, plea bargains and defenses

If you ever face charges for shoplifting, three is no guarantee of punishment to the full extent of the law. Criminal defense may result in your acquittal or reduction of charges. Plea bargaining may reduce your fines or sentencing. Plus, certain Minnesota counties offer diversion programs for low-level and first-time offenses.

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