Shoplifting

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Shoplifting

Theft of merchandise from a store or business establishment.

Although the crime of shoplifting may be prosecuted under general Larceny statutes, most jurisdictions have established a specific category for shoplifting. Statutes vary widely, but generally the elements of shoplifting are (1) willfully taking possession of or concealing unpurchased goods that are offered for sale (2) with the intention of converting the merchandise to the taker's personal use without paying the purchase price. Possession or concealment of goods typically encompasses actions both on and outside the premises.

Concealment is generally understood in terms of common usage. Therefore, covering an object to keep it from sight constitutes concealment, as would other methods of hiding an object from a shop owner. A shopper's actions and demeanor in the store, her lack of money to pay for merchandise, and the placement of an object out of a retailer's direct view are all examples of Circumstantial Evidence that may establish intent.

Shoplifting costs businesses billions of dollars every year. To enable store owners to recoup some of their losses, most states have enacted civil recovery or civil demand statutes. These laws enable retailers to seek restitution from shoplifters. Criminal prosecution is not a prerequisite to a civil demand request. Typically, a representative of or attorney for a victimized business demands a statutorily set compensation in a letter to the offender. If an offender does not respond favorably to the civil demand letter, the retailer may bring an action in Small Claims Court or another appropriate forum.

To forestall any allegations of coercion, many companies initiate civil recovery proceedings only after the shoplifter has been released from the store's custody. It is a criminal offense to threaten prosecution if a civil demand is not paid. Moreover, if a store accuses a customer of shoplifting and the individual is acquitted or if a store makes an erroneous detention, the store may face claims of False Imprisonment, Extortion, Defamation, or intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Further readings

Sennewald, Charles A., and John H. Christman. 1992. Shoplifting. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Ask a Lawyer

Question

Country: United States of America
State: Florida

caught shoplifting at sears 12/05/05, first time, 20yearsold, have no criminal record.

Answer

Make sure you get counsel (or at least the public defender) to try to keep this off your record eventually--jail time is probably not likely if your record is very clear now. But having that arrest and/or a conviction on your record will make job-hunting etc. more difficult. Often this could be negotiated down to some kind of court supervision etc
References in periodicals archive ?
WINONA Ryder says she was practising for a movie role and that the director suggested she go on a shop lifting expedition.
200 YEARS AGO: Whereas two women were on Thursday last apprehended in this town for shop lifting at Mr Edward Jones's, Mercer and Draper, in Bull Street, and are now confined in the prison here, they are supposed to belong to a large gang of the same des cription and have lately been at Leicester and places adjacent, Daventry and Coventry at which places they are suspected of committing similar activities.
From there they are forced into crimes such as shop lifting and street theft.
The four words sound like, in our terms, banning shop lifting or climbing into houses through smashed windows.
When questioned, Jones, who has six previous convictions for 10 offences, mostly for shop lifting, accepted she had entered the house.
200 YEARS AGO: Last week our Magistrates committed to Warwick gaol Susannah Eyre, a woman of genteel appearance, for shop lifting at Mr Horton's in New Street.
Brian Cross, defending, said Roberts, who also admitted various shop lifting offences, said his client was a very young man who was vulnerable and easily led
As reported yesterday, the six week operation - which may be extended - aims to greatly increase the visible police presence by putting extra plain-clothed and uniformed officers on the beat in a bid to stem the rising tide of drug use, car crime, robbery and shop lifting in specific areas of the town.
Fallen idol Winona Ryder was in a Los Angeles Court this week facing charges of shop lifting and if this wasn't enough humiliation, the 30-year-old suffered a fractured arm after being hit by a camera.