Shoplifting is the act of concealing an item for sale and leaving without paying for it. It is treated as larceny, which is the theft of another person’s property without permission. Some states have made specific statutes that deal with shoplifting only. Other than stealing merchandise, any attempt to avoid paying for something is considered shoplifting.
The charges for shoplifting depend on the amount and value of goods in question. If dangerous items have been stolen, the charges might be severe. You could also be charged with a felony for shoplifting. The state gives the prosecution permission to discretely decide what charges they want to pursue. The prosecutor evaluates several factors before deciding the charges. The prior record of the defendant is essential in determining the charges.
Private citizens do not have the right to hold another person against their will. But in some cases, shop owners have been given those rights. All they need is probable cause to keep the suspect inside the store till law enforcement officials arrive. Complications arise when establishing what can be defined as probable cause. Several states require the store to have evidence of shoplifting before detaining a suspect. The law does not allow store owners to use excessive force or treat the suspect with disrespect. Doing so might leave them vulnerable to charges of assault and battery.
Being charged with shoplifting can lead to serious repercussions, especially if the goods involved are dangerous or expensive. If a store’s management detains you for shoplifting, you should consider calling an experienced defense attorney. The attorney will try to make sure you are not mistreated and might be able to help you fight the charges.