Shoplifting on your own is one thing – shoplifting in a coordinated effort with other people is another thing entirely in the eyes of the law.
A Burnsville, Minnesota store was targeted by a group of three people who had coordinated the crime on Facebook. They were found to have shoplifted nearly $2,000 worth of merchandise before they were through.
The same thing happened in St. Paul and Maplewood, which roughly the same amount being stolen. Police uncovered an organized theft ring responsible for the theft of high-end merchandise and now the people responsible are facing charges.
Here’s what you need to know about shoplifting crimes in Minnesota and what charges can be faced if you’re caught when the law defines your activity as conspiracy to commit shoplifting.
What Is Shoplifting in Minnesota?
It’s important to note that the state of Minnesota has no actual shoplifting charge. If you are caught shoplifting here, you are charged with theft of property. There are a few ways someone can commit theft of property in Minnesota. They are:
- Taking or concealing store property without permission
- Switching price tags from another item that costs less
- Falsely representing yourself in order to obtain goods from a store
- Consuming drinks or food in a store without paying for them
Getting caught doing any of the above actions can mean a charge of theft.
Penalties for Theft in Minnesota
The penalties faced for theft in Minnesota depend upon the value of the item or items that were stolen. There are three categories of theft charges: Misdemeanor (or Petty) Theft, Gross Misdemeanor Theft, and Felony Theft. Let’s take a closer look at each.
Misdemeanor – Petty Theft
For property that is valued at less than $500, a misdemeanor of petty theft is charged. That can result in up to three months in jail and fines up to $1,000.
Gross Misdemeanor Theft
This can be charged if the value of the items stolen is between $500 and $1,000. It is punishable by up to one year in prison and fines up to $3,000.
Felony theft penalties are broken down further into three levels based on the aggregate value of the property stolen.
- For property valued between $1,000 and $5,000, a felony is charged. It is punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of $10,000.
- For property valued between $5,000 and $35,000, a felony is charged that can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years and $20,000 in fines.
- For any property valuing $35,000 or more, a felony is charged that can result in a prison sentence up to 20 years and fines up to $100,00.
What About Conspiracy to Commit Theft?
In Minnesota, you can be charged for conspiring to commit a crime whether it was ever actually committed or not. In fact, according to the law, it is a crime to conspire with another person in the furtherance of the conspiracy of a crime.
Read that again. It is illegal in Minnesota to conspire to conspire with another person about a crime. That should tell you something about how seriously the state takes crimes of conspiracy.
Penalties for a Minnesota Conspiracy
If the crime you are conspiring to commit is a misdemeanor, then being found guilty of a conspiracy charge associated with the crime is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine up to $300.
If the crime you are caught conspiring to commit is a gross misdemeanor or a felony, then you are subject to not more than one-half of the term of imprisonment for that crime and fines associated with it.
Remember, simply planning to carry out a crime is a crime itself. Following through subjects you to charges for both the crime you are found guilty of committing and conspiracy, so understand your rights.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is an AV-Preeminent rated criminal and DWI defense attorney based in Minneapolis who is known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge and named a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law by the Minnesota Bar Association. Mr. Keyers is Lead Counsel rated, and he has received recognition for his criminal law work from Avvo, Expertise, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, and more.