Shoplifting, in the most basic sense, means that a person deprives a store owner of the profit from the merchandise they're selling by taking the merchandise or changing the price tags on it. People in California may have been hearing about shoplifting being decriminalized.
This doesn't mean that it's legal to shoplift here. Instead, these individuals are referring to the results of Proposition 47, which passed in 2014. The adoption of that proposition means that the theft of anything that's $950 or less is a misdemeanor. Because of that fact, many instances of shoplifting aren't ever prosecuted.
Decriminalization isn't a free pass
It's important to note that many police departments, including the one in San Francisco, are seeing an alarming trend in shoplifting. These departments have stepped up their efforts to thwart shoplifting in the city. People who shoplift can face criminal charges, so don't think that Proposition 47 is intended as a free pass.
There are many businesses and some police departments that simply don't see the value in wasting time pursuing these cases so they don't act. It's still possible that someone who's known as a serial shoplifter or who attempts to take goods from a store on a day when a clerk or owner is sick of dealing with this behavior might end up facing criminal charges.
Anyone who's charged with theft of any sort, including a misdemeanor for shoplifting, should learn about their options for a defense. This type of charge can have a great impact on the rest of your life so you should start planning your defense strategy quickly.