Shop Lifting Charges This is a form of theft, which is defined as stealing another person’s property without their consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of their property.
Although many provinces have generic larceny or theft statutes that apply to Shop Lifting Charges, numerous provinces have created shoplifting-specific laws. The offense is known by many titles in different states, such as “retail theft” and “merchant concealment.”
Elements of Shoplifting
Though each province’s laws differ, shoplifting offenses usually consist of two elements:
- Taking hold of or hiding items that are being offered for sale.
- Intention to deprive the items’ legitimate owner (usually a retailer) of ownership without paying the purchase price.
Importantly, this means that in many places, an act can be considered as shoplifting even if the individual did not attempt to leave a store with stolen goods. Simply concealing products, whether inside or outside the store, can often result in a criminal conviction. Although it is necessary to have the intention to steal an item from a store, several states consider hiding products to be evidence of intent.
In some areas, a shoplifter must continue past the point of sale before the offense is considered complete.
Shoplifting laws make it illegal for someone to avoid paying the full purchase price for an item, in addition to concealing the item to avoid paying for it. This can include, for example:
- Changing the price tags
- Manipulation of goods
- Putting products in various containers or packaging to avoid paying the entire or a portion of the purchase price
One of the most popular shoplifting strategies is to go through self-checkout aisles and scan certain products while pretending to scan others. From afar, the shoplifters appear to be paying for their products, even though they are stealing the same amount (or more) as they buy.
The severity of shoplifting penalties, like other types of theft charges, is usually determined by the value of the products involved. Such charges can be raised if specific things, such as drugs, guns, or incendiary devices are shoplifted. Charges for planned retail theft, which occurs when several people collaborate to commit repeated acts of shoplifting, are also increased.
Statutory provisions may involve a variety of offenses, and prosecutors may have authority in deciding which charges to prosecute in a particular case. In many places, shoplifting charges range from minor misdemeanors to felony charges with varying degrees of severity. Most minor shoplifting charges are not prosecuted at all in some jurisdictions.
Contrary to popular belief, a shoplifter cannot avoid criminal prosecution simply by returning items or promising to pay for the stolen property.
Get Legal Help If You've Been Charged with Shoplifting
Depending on the laws of your province and specific factors, your shoplifting charges could be severe. If you are facing such charges, you will want to learn more about your specific situation by talking to a criminal defense attorney near you. Contact FMK Law Group today for a consultation.