Shoplifting is the act of taking or concealing items with the intent of not paying for them. It is also referred to as retail theft or concealment of merchandise.
Examples of shoplifting offenses:
Shoplifting is a criminal offense under theft law. For a long time, the practice was treated like any other larceny case. However, with time, the practice became rampant and many states outlined specific shoplifting laws. These laws outline the terms of treating shoplifters, how retail owners should act in the event of shoplifting, elements of a shoplifting charge and penalties for shoplifting.
The severity of a shoplifting charge depends on value of goods, state laws and criminal records of the shoplifter. As such, a charge can be an infraction, felony or misdemeanor. Misdemeanors and infractions essentially attract fines, probation deferral, restitution or probation programs. On the other hand, felonies get larger fines and jail terms.
Retailers are legally allowed to detain a shoplifting suspect. However, there are stipulations outlined by the law on detention of shoplifters. This is meant to protect both the retailers and the suspect. Retailers must adhere to lawful detention procedures as well as questioning procedures. Use of force is not allowed under any circumstances. They must also have a probable cause or evidence for detention. The law also protects retailers against civil rights charges for detaining a suspected shoplifter.
An accusation can be made whether you are guilty or not. In either case, it is important to limit conversation with police or retailer and contact your defense lawyer. Otherwise, taking matters in your own hands could end up worsening the case.
Below are five things to do if caught concealing merchandise:
Once accused of shoplifting, the wise thing to do is to seek an informal settlement with the retailer. If the retailer goes ahead to sue, the last option is pleading guilty. Although defending against court charges is cumbersome, it is great option to getting a favorable sentence.
The prosecution has to prove that the accused is guilty and that the case meets all the elements. The question of intent of not paying is a tough one to prove. One can use the following defenses:
Otherwise, one can plea bargain or negotiate for a deferral or diversion programs.
It can be embarrassing and shameful to be caught shoplifting. That notwithstanding, there is a favorable way to deal with it. Zappich&Liller criminal defense attorneys are committed to ensuring protection of your rights and a favorable outcome. Contact us if charged with or accused of shoplifting.