Definition of Shoplifting in Oklahoma
Oklahoma defines shoplifting as the larceny of merchandise held for sale in retail or wholesale establishments. It’s officially called “larceny of merchandise from a retailer or wholesaler.” This crime is frequently charged by municipalities, rather than the state. Cities where shoplifting charges are common are Oklahoma City, Edmond, Norman, and Moore. If you’re charged with shoplifting by a city, then the punishments in this article do not apply to you. You’ll need to check the municipal code to see what your possible punishment is.
“Merchant” means an owner or operator of any mercantile establishment, and includes the merchant’s employees, servants, security agents, or other agents;
“Mercantile establishment” means any place where merchandise is displayed, held or offered for sale, either at retail or wholesale.
“Unemancipated minor” means any unmarried person under 18 under direct supervision and care of the parent or legal guardian of the minor.
“Emancipated minor” means any person under 18 who is married and/or not under direct supervision and care of the parent or legal guardian of the minor.
Punishment for Shoplifting in Oklahoma
The punishment is as follows:
|# of Conviction||Property Value||Type of Crime||Jail/Prison||Fine|
|1st or 2nd||< $1,000||Misdemeanor||up to 30 days jail||$10-$500|
|3rd+||< $1,000||Misdemeanor||Up to 1 yr jail||≤ $1,000|
|Any||≥ $1,000 &|
|Felony||Up to 2 yrs prison||≤ $1,000|
|Any||≥ $2,500 &|
|Felony||Up to 5 yrs prison||≤ $1,000|
|Any||≥ $15,000||Felony||Up to 8 yrs prison||≤ $1,000|
When three or more separate shoplifting offenses are committed within a 90-day period, the value of the property involved in each shoplifting offense may be aggregated to determine the total value for purposes of determining the appropriate punishment.
If you engage in shoplifting in concert with at least one other person, you will be liable for the aggregate value of all items taken by all individuals. You can also be charged with conspiracy, which is a felony.
Civil Penalties for Shoplifting in Oklahoma
There are also civil liabilities that apply to shoplifting. These are covered by 21 O.S. § 1731.1. If you shoplifted, then you’re liable in a civil action for either: 1) the retail price of the merchandise if it is unsalable or 2) the percentage of the diminished value of the merchandise due to the conversion—together with attorney fees and court costs.
An adult or emancipated minor who takes possession of any goods, wares, or merchandise displayed or offered for sale by any wholesale or retail store or other mercantile establishment without the consent of the owner, seller, or merchant and with the intention of converting such goods, wares, or merchandise to his or her own use without having paid the purchase price of those things, is liable in a civil action for the retail price of the merchandise if it’s unsalable or the percentage of the diminished value of the merchandise due to the conversion together with attorney fees and court costs.
The parent or legal guardian having custody of an unemancipated minor who shoplifts is liable in a civil action for either: 1) the retail price of the merchandise if it is unsalable or 2) the percentage of the diminished value of the merchandise due to the conversion—plus attorney fees and court costs.
An adult, emancipated minor, or unemancipated minor against whom judgment is rendered for shoplifting may also be required to pay exemplary damages. In lieu of the exemplary damages, any adult, emancipated minor, or unemancipated minor against whom a judgment for exemplary damages has been rendered may be required to perform public services designated by the court. In lieu of the exemplary damages, any adult, emancipated minor, or unemancipated minor against whom a judgment for exemplary damages has been rendered may be required to perform public services designated by the court. However, you must perform at least the number of hours of such public service necessary to satisfy the damages assessed by the court at the federal minimum wage prevailing in the state at the time of judgment, but in no case less than $50 nor more than $500.
The provisions of the shoplifting statute are in addition to criminal penalties and other civil remedies. There is limitation on merchants or other persons from electing to pursue criminal penalties and other civil remedies, so long as a double recovery does not result. The law does not limit merchants from pursuing both civil and criminal remedies. You can be charged by both the state as well as have a pending civil case by the merchant; however, the merchant will not be entitled to no more than the amount that was stolen. If the merchant wins in civil court and you are also ordered to pay restitution by the criminal court, then you will only have to pay the merchant up to the value of the goods you shoplifted. Note that you can win your criminal case yet still have to pay restitution. This is because the merchant can still go after you in civil court. The burden of proof is much lower in a civil court than it is in a criminal court. The civil action for this must commence within two years after the violation occurred.
Sources: 21 O.S. § 1731 and 21 O.S. § 1731.1
Current as of March 29, 2020. Laws are subject to change at any time! Go to the sources cited above for the most up-to-date law.
Charged with shoplifting in Oklahoma? Call Oklahoma shoplifting attorney Frank Urbanic in OKC for a free case consultation.