Shoplifting is a riskier crime than ever, with the security cameras now present everywhere and more retails stores adding security and loss prevention employees to their staff. Shoplifting does still happen, however, and is especially common among younger individuals.
Shoplifting isn’t necessarily as basic as putting something in your pocket and walking out of a store with it, though that certainly counts. People will try any number of ways to cheat a store out of paying full price or paying at all. It’s not uncommon to see individuals swap out price tags on items, hoping the clerk won’t notice a damaged paper tag or that the item descriptions in the system don’t match up.
Even being caught slipping something into a purse or jacket, without ever leaving the store with it, demonstrates intent and you can be charged.
Kids don’t always have the best judgment and for someone young and reckless, taking something on a dare or because they didn’t have the money for it can seem exhilarating and daring, with no real victim to feel guilty about. But, of course, shoplifting is a crime that is punishable by legal and financial consequences.
Shoplifting is considered petty theft, which is a misdemeanor if the value of the items stolen is under a certain limit — usually $500. First-time offenders for shoplifting will typically owe a fine; jail time is not standard in these cases, and especially if this was your child’s first encounter with the law. Courts may be less lenient on repeat shoplifting offenders, however.
Your first step should be to hire a lawyer. While shoplifting is often not a serious crime in many cases, it should be taken seriously to ensure charges and fines are minimized. Enlisting the services of an attorney often demonstrates to a judge that you are responsible and understanding that while the crime may be a misdemeanor, an illegal action was still taken. This may play out favorably for your family during a probable cause hearing.
You or a loved one could be looking at jail time if the items stolen were of high value, such as jewelry and electronics, or if you have a prior criminal record that includes additional shoplifting and petty theft charges. You could be looking at higher levels of misdemeanors or even felonies if a pattern of repeat and recurrent theft is demonstrated.
As the parent of a shoplifter who is under age, you may be involved in helping to repay for the cost of the item and any damages to the store from which the items were taken.
If you’re looking for a skilled criminal defense attorney to help you or your child’s shoplifting case in Smithfield, RI, contact our firm immediately. We work diligently on behalf of our clients to provide them with the best defense possible.