Shoplift is the crime of stealing, or making an effort to steal, or intentionally paying less than the full amount for products or goods in a store. Each state has specific laws governing the crime and consequences of shoplifting. Shoplifting can include taking something without the intention of paying for it, hiding, concealing, or modifying a store's goods (including the price tag) with the intention of stealing it or unlawfully paying less that it is being sold for, removing a shopping cart or any other item belonging to a commercial business, or intentionally using a dishonored check or other false means of payment in order to acquire goods.
It is estimated by law enforcement that approximately ninety percent of the US population will commit the crime of shoplifting at some point in their lives. Adolescents account for one-half of all shoplifting cases, though- value wise- this population steals one-third of what adults steal. Shoplifting causes one-third of all new businesses to fail. Businesses lose sixteen billion dollars annually as a result of shoplifting losses. Each family in the United States pays an extra three hundred dollars for goods and services to subsidize losses from shoplifting. Shoplifting is a crime that affects all consumers in one way or another.
Shoplifting laws are governed by individual states and can vary depending on the location of the crime. Shoplifting penalties typically depend on the amount and value of the goods that were stolen, and whether or not the offender has shoplifted before. Each state sets their specific limit on the value of stolen goods which constitutes a misdemeanor charge and that which qualifies as a felony crime.
In most states, shoplifting goods with a value less than $300 to $500 constitutes a petty theft misdemeanor charge. Shoplifting goods with a greater value may constitute a grand theft or larceny felony charge. The charges for shoplifting also depend on whether a person has a criminal history of shoplifting and other specific factors.
The penalties for shoplifting vary by circumstance and location but can include fines up to two times the amount of the value that was stolen, prison or jail time, and community service. In some cases compensatory fines may also be assessed in shoplifting cases in order to compensate a store owner for his or her losses.
In some shoplifting cases when the value of the goods is minor and it is a first time offense, perhaps committed by a minor, the criminal justice system will issue a warning to the shoplifting offender rather than prosecute the case. This depends wholly on the circumstances, and does not mitigate the unlawfulness of shoplifting.
If you would like to learn more about shoplifting, you may wish to contact a qualified and experienced legal expert who can advise you of your legal rights and options. An attorney can help to protect and maximize your legal interests in a shoplifting case.
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