Is a Nebraska shoplifting offense a misdemeanor or felony?

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2024 | Theft |

Property rights have strong protection under Nebraska law. Individuals and businesses should not have to worry about others misappropriating or stealing their resources, and if someone does, the state can take action. Theft is among the most common crimes prosecuted in Nebraska. Some people rob other individuals or burglarize residential properties. Countless others shoplift from businesses. Nebraska defines shoplifting as the attempt to misappropriate resources from a business. Leaving a store without paying for merchandise or taking steps to do so could lead to someone’s arrest and prosecution.

In theory, someone does not even need to leave the store with merchandise. Tampering with security devices, altering price tags or attempting to hide merchandise could be enough to warrant shoplifting charges. Some scenarios are more serious than others.

Shoplifting can be a felony in some scenarios

People often think of shoplifting as a victimless crime. Instead of taking items from another person, they take merchandise from a business. However, companies tend to pass those costs along to members of the public or may even cease selling certain products because of shoplifting.

State prosecutors, therefore, often aggressively pursue charges against those accused of misappropriating retail merchandise. In general, once the value of the item(s) involved reaches $1,500 or more, the state can pursue felony charges. Someone could face a Class IV felony for items worth between $1,500 and $5,000 and Class IIA felony charges when the merchandise is worth $5,000 or more. Any shoplifting case involving items worth less than $1,500 could lead to misdemeanor charges.

However, there is another rule that could lead to felony shoplifting charges. Anyone accused of a third or subsequent shoplifting offense within ten years of the first could face felony charges, regardless of the value of the items involved. In scenarios involving someone repeatedly targeting the same business, prosecutors could bring multiple charges or might add the total value of the merchandise to pursue more severe charges against the alleged shoplifter.

A guilty plea might lead to both criminal penalties and a record that forever affects someone’s eligibility for educational opportunities and new jobs. Understanding how Nebraska handles shoplifting cases, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, can help someone accused or the parents of a recently-arrested young adult determine the best response to those allegations.