Five-Finger Discount: What Are the Penalties for Shoplifting in Nevada?

In 2001, a shoplifting case made the pages of almost every American newspaper and gossip column. The reason was that the suspect was actress Winona Ryder, who was then at the peak of her fame. Ryder walked out of Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, CA, with thousands of dollars of luxury clothing. Eventually, Ryder was convicted of grand theft, a felony, and served 480 hours of community service.

If Winona was caught shoplifting in Nevada, it is unlikely that she would have gotten off with such a relatively light sentence. Under Section 205.0835 of the Nevada statutes, the primary determining factor in determining punishment is the value of the goods taken:

  • Goods worth up to $650: This is classified as a misdemeanor, with a potential jail sentence of up to six months, a potential fine of up to $1,000, and restitution to the merchant.
  • Goods worth between $650 and $3,500: This is a Category C felony, with a potential prison term of between one and five years, a potential fine of $10,000, and restitution to the merchant.
  • Goods worth more than $3,500: This is a Category B felony, with a potential prison term of between one and 10 years, a potential fine of $10,000, and restitution to the merchant.

Civil restitution

Even if you are not convicted of the offense (usually due to a plea bargain), you may still be subject to civil liability to the merchant. Under section 597.860, you may be sued for restitution, damages between $100 and $250, costs of the lawsuit, and attorneys’ fees. Even if the shoplifter is a minor, the merchant is allowed to file a similar suit, but against the minor’s parents.

With surveillance cameras placed everywhere in stores today, defenses to a shoplifting charge are limited. The primary defense is lack of intent, meaning that you simply forgot to pay. The success of that defense depends on the circumstances of the case and the skill of your lawyer.

If you are facing a shoplifting charge, whether misdemeanor or felony, it is crucial to retain the expertise of an experienced Reno criminal defense attorney.

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