Shoplifting Attorney - Minnesota

Our team at North Star Criminal Defense has recently represented a number of clients accused of shoplifting, a form of theft under Minnesota law. A shoplifting attorney is critical for defendants to avoid long-lasting consequences from a poor decision. We have a page devoted to theft on our website but we wanted to have a post dedicated solely to shoplifting.

Starting off, shoplifting charges could stem from a variety of actions. A few of these include switching price tags, walking out of a store with an item without paying for it, eating food in a store without paying for it, or return fraud.

Shoplifting is an extremely common crime in Minnesota with a known 22,000 instances in 2015 alone. Stores, especially large retail chains, use a vast array of methods to combat this, using cameras, undercover store security, magnetic sensors, and electronic article surveillance.

Like all theft, shoplifting is divided initially into three basic categories depending on the amount that was allegedly taken.

Charge Level Possible Penalty
Shoplifting property valued less than $500 Misdemeanor Up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine
Shoplifting property valued between $500 and $1,000 Gross Misdemeanor Up to one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine
Shoplifting property valued between $1,000 and $5,000 Felony Up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine


There are even greater penalties for larger amounts taken but a majority of shoplifting crimes fit into the three mentioned categories. There are exceptions though, depending on what may have been take or if the crime is a recurrence:

Charge Level Possible Penalty
Shoplifting property valued between $500 and $1,000 with a prior theft conviction within five years Felony Up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine
Shoplifting a firearm Felony Up to 20 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine
Shoplifting property that is considered an explosive or controlled substance Felony Up to 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine



As your shoplifting attorney, know that we treat every case as being unique, requiring a personalized legal strategy for each client. But common defenses to theft charges include the lack of the requisite intent, whether the defendant had a claim of right to the alleged stolen property, and whether the State can prove the value of the property in order to meet the gross misdemeanor or felony thresholds for the criminal penalties.

Most good theft defenses will require careful scrutiny by a Minnesota shoplifting attorney and even an investigator to interview key witnesses. The end result is a well thought out and strategic defense.

Shoplifting often stems from addiction or problems in one’s life. Entering treatment or making changes in one’s life are the greatest actions that a person can take to fight shoplifting charges.

Recent Case Results

We’ve had some fantastic results recently for our clients charged with shoplifting. Here are some examples:

State v. E.M.

Charge: Misdemeanor Theft – Shoplifting

ResolutionContinuance for dismissal. Despite the State’s initial offer being a good offer, one that is common for most shoplifting cases, the North Star team still pushed, highlighting the client’s good overall record, positive facts about the case, and her career ambitions for why a better result – the best possible result – was appropriate and needful. For a young mother, keeping her record clear was critical in order to best provide for her family in the future.

State v. M.K.L.

Charge: Shoplifting – Misdemeanor Theft

Resolution: Continuance for dismissal. The City Attorney took a firm stance on the offer being a stay of adjudication – a great result that the client would have been pleased with. But, Mr. Gempeler knew a better outcome was obtainable with the proper approach. After counseling the client about ways to be proactive in a manner that could lead to a better result, Mr. Gempeler aggressively negotiated the better result for the client – a continuance for a dismissal. For a client that must disclose her criminal record for her job, the distinction is significant in that she no longer has to state she pled guilty to the offense. The client is relieved that her mistake won’t impact her future due to the aggressive approach by Mr. Gempeler.

State v. M.Y.

Charge: Shoplifting – Misdemeanor Theft

Resolution Continuance for Dismissal. Shoplifting (theft) case out of Anoka County. Besides an outright dismissal, this is the best possible result a client can achieve in their case. Assuming our client stays law abiding for a year, this case will be completely dismissed and stay off their record.