Shoplifting is the stealing of merchandise available at any stores open for business. It is an unauthorized removal of merchandise from a store without paying for it.
Other states differentiate between the crimes of shoplifting and general theft for purposes of charging and sentencing, and some treat shoplifting less severely than other theft offenses such as an infraction rather than a misdemeanor.
According to the institute of criminology, shoplifting accounts for 70% of all incidents of crime committed, however 42% of all incidents were reported to the police.
Typically, this offense results in a fine. It depends on the state. Misdemeanor charges may result in jail time (less than one year), probation, or a fine. Few may result in a longer jail sentence, probation, or a more massive fine. State laws vary widely in the severity of shoplifting charges.
Shoplifters range from amateurs acting on the impulse to career criminals who habitually engage in shoplifting as a form of income Says Attorney Miya Griggs. Career criminals may use several individuals to shoplift, with some participants distracting store employees while another participant steals items. Amateurs typically steal products for personal use, while career criminals generally steal items to resell them in the underground economy. Other forms of shoplifting include swapping price labels of different items, return fraud, or eating a grocery store’s food without paying for it.
Elements of Shoplifting:
There are two elements of shoplifting:-
1. Willfully concealing or taking possession of items offered for sale; and
2. The intent to deprive the items rightfully from the owner (typically the store) of custody of the items without paying the purchase price.
Shoplifting sentencing and penalties:
The penalties and sentences for shoplifting can range from minor to severe, with several factors coming into play. Even if they may appear insignificant, these factors could mean the difference between a small fine and several years in prison and difficulties obtaining jobs in the future.
Attorney Miya Griggs says: It can have a significant impact on your life, even for small offenses. Depending on your criminal history, even the shoplifting of a candy bar could have a disproportionate impact on your upcoming life.
Shoplifting is a crime common among minors. Those who are caught shoplifting while under 18 will be penalized accordingly through the juvenile system. Example repercussions could include being released to their parents, fined restitution, assigned probation, or/and ordered to complete community service.
Attorney Miya Griggs says those who are found shoplifting at 18 years or older will face judgment through the criminal justice system. These repercussions will be more significant and longer-lasting. However, the exact penalties depend on the value of the merchandise stolen. The value of the goods stolen constitutes the punishment a defendant over the age of 18 will face.
Whether you are under or over the age of 18, if you have previous shoplifting counts, penalties will be heightened. Criminal fines usually depend on the amount stolen; higher theft amounts may result in more significant fines.
A misdemeanor offense leaves a stain on an individual’s criminal record. The discovery of shoplifting charges through a background check could deny an individual housing, education, and job opportunities.