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Shoplifting is a theft crime in Rhode Island, defined as the willful taking of merchandise from a retail establishment with the knowledge or consent of the seller. The intention is to convert the goods for one’s personal use, without having paid the full purchase price for the item. Different actions might fall under the category of shoplifting, and all are considered crimes under state law. Shoplifting may be categorized as a misdemeanor or a felony, with penalties that can increase with the severity of the crime.

If you arrested and charged with shoplifting, it is vital that you seek help from an experienced Rhode Island law team. Attorney Stephen Archambault has seen how stressful an arrest of this type can be for his clients and he works with each one to design the best defense for their specific cases. He is committed to reviewing every detail of your situation to ensure the best possible outcome for you.

What Constitutes Shoplifting in Rhode Island?

You may be arrested for shoplifting if you commit any act with the intention of depriving a merchant of the full value of a piece of merchandise. Those actions might include:

  • Taking possession and removing an item from the retail establishment
  • Concealing a piece or pieces of merchandise with the intent to remove it from the store
  • Switching the price tag on an object to a lower price
  • Removing shopping carts beyond the legally permitted areas established by the store
  • Placing merchandise in different packaging that reflects a lower price for the item

Shoplifting is a specific intent crime, which means the prosecution has the burden of proof to show you did indeed commit a theft crime beyond a shadow of the doubt. However, shoplifting is also classified as a prima facie case, indicating that evidence presented is sufficient to prove your guilt unless it is directly rebutted. These various factors can add to the complexity of a shoplifting charge and provides further reason why an experienced attorney is essential in ensuring the best result from your situation.

Penalties for Shoplifting

In most cases, shoplifting is classified as a misdemeanor crime in Rhode Island. The penalties for misdemeanor shoplifting might include a fine ranging from $50 to $500, depending on the value of the item (the fine will be $50 or two times the retail value of the items taken, up to $500). Those convicted of the crime may also face up to one year of imprisonment.

A shoplifting charge may be increased to a felony if it is a second offense and the value of the item taken exceeds $100. A felony shoplifting charge carries a fine of up to $5,000 and a maximum sentence of five years in jail. Both misdemeanors and felonies can also remain on your record for a period, which can affect your ability to get a job or a loan. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, enlisting experienced legal help will have a profound impact on how your case is decided and what penalties might be assessed.

Potential Defenses in a Shoplifting Case

Different defenses might be used in a shoplifting case, depending on the specific circumstances of your charges. If you are accused of concealing an item but did not remove it from the retail establishment, we may be able to argue that the concealment was not intentional. There are other potential defenses that an experienced attorney can use in your favor. In some cases, a plea bargain will get the charges – and the penalties – reduced. Particularly with first offenses, attorneys can often have the charges dismissed in return for restitution and community service hours.

Get Legal Help Today

Anyone can make a misguided, split-second choice that can have long-lasting ramifications on their life. Whether your shoplifting charge was legitimate or the result of a misunderstanding, legal representation is essential to preserve your rights and ensure your case is decided in your favor if possible. The right attorney in your corner will ensure your rights are preserved throughout the legal process as well.

If you have been arrested for shoplifting, don’t wait to get the legal assistance you need and are entitled to receive. At Archambault Law, we will sit down with you to assess your case at no charge and answer the legal questions that frequently arise when you are involved in this situation. To learn more about our services or get the help you need today, contact Archambault Law at 401-300-0925.

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