Is Shoplifting A Serious Crime?

Shoplifting means taking something from a store or merchandise-selling business without making the product’s payment. It is a type of larceny where people take things without the owner’s permission and with the intention of not letting the owner know that they have taken them. Although different states have different laws about shoplifting, the penalties are severe. 

If you have been mistakenly charged with shoplifting, you must first understand the gravity of the situation. Most people take it lightly, thinking they can “talk it out” with the owner and solve things. But, such an offense can lead to fines, probation, and bans from certain properties. Contact a New Westminster criminal defence lawyer and explore your options. 

What are the elements of a shoplifting case?

Each state has different laws and penalties regarding shoplifting, but these are the two basic elements: 

  • Intentionally taking or stealing items put on sale.
  • The intention is to deprive the store owner or business owner of the said item without paying its price. 

This means you can be charged with shoplifting even if you do not attempt to exit the store with the items taken. Simply the concealment of merchandise, inside or outside the store, is enough to be charged with a crime. The intent to steal is an important element here. 

One of the most common ways shoplifting occurs is when shoplifters go through self-checkout lanes and only scan some times, leaving out others. 

What could happen if you are caught shoplifting?

If you are caught shoplifting in New Westminster, the store owner or manager may call the police, and they may arrest you. You might even be taken to court, where you will either have to pay a fine or serve jail, depending on your age and the value of the items. An infraction may result in fine and possible probation, while a misdemeanor can mean $1000 in fine and up to six months in jail. 

Felony or grand theft charges can result in greater fines and more time in jail. Such charges stay on record for a long time. This is why it is important to hire an attorney to remove these charges as soon as possible. 

Defending yourself against shoplifting charges

Defending yourself against shoplifting charges is not easy, especially not without an experienced attorney by your side. Even if you plan to plead guilty before the jury and face the punishment, you should consult with an attorney first. An attorney can negotiate with the court and bargain for less severe punishment. 

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