According to a shoplifting lawyer, shoplifting involves the theft of merchandise from a store or place of business. States punish shoplifting under general and theft statutes. Other states however have statutes that specifically address shoplifting. Shoplifting is also referred to as retail theft or concealment of merchandise.
Generally, shoplifting offenses have two basic elements that include willful concealment or taking possession of an item that is offered for sale and intent to deprive the rightful owner, usually a store, of an item without paying the purchase price.
In some states, shoplifting laws can be broken even without an attempt to go out of the store with the stolen item. The mere fact that the merchandise was concealed whether inside or outside the store can be enough to consider it as shoplifting. The act of concealing merchandise can be considered as an evidence of intent.
Aside from taking an item without paying for it, shoplifting also includes actions to avoid paying the full price for an item. This is done by altering price tags, manipulating merchandise or placing the items in different containers or packaging to avoid paying the full purchase price.
Like theft, shoplifting charges depends on the value of goods involved. For example, if firearms, explosive or incendiary devices are shoplifted, the charges increase in many states. Prosecutors have the discretion to decide on the charges that has to be pursued for a specific case.
Prior criminal convictions particularly theft convictions will affect the prosecutor’s decision on the charge that has to be pursued. In some states, when the offender has a previous theft conviction, it can automatically result to a more serious charge, not merely an infraction or misdemeanor. Depending on the state and severity of the offense, shoplifting can result to jail time, probation or fines.
Because every state has a different law on shoplifting, it is important to discuss your specific situation with a shoplifting lawyer who has extensive knowledge of the laws. The shoplifting charges could be treated as an infraction, misdemeanor or felony instead of theft that can result to conviction. A criminal conviction has a negative impact on your future life.