Shoplifting is generally seen as a minor crime, often perpetrated by teenagers. While it may seem harmless and not offer significant consequences, it’s still a bad idea on a number of levels. It’s also helpful to know the intricate details of the crime in terms of what the law says and how it’s implemented.
One important detail is that you do not need to leave the store with the stolen goods to be charged with shoplifting. If you are concealing the item in the store and there is reason to suspect you intend to leave with it, it is considered enough evidence in the eyes of the law. This means you should never get to the step of considering shoplifting in the first place; there is no safe area between hiding the item, and going through with the crime. Additionally, even if you intend to pay for the product, it’s best to keep it in plain sight within your basket or shopping cart to stay on the right side of the law.
Laws vary by state, but shoplifting is generally considered an infraction or misdemeanor. However, there are some cases where it can actually be charged as a felony. In particular, if you are caught shoplifting dangerous weapons such as firearms, the penalties increase severely. Just as the charges vary, so do the penalties. Shoplifting will usually result in a fine, but it can be a cause for jail time. In the case of the felony charge for stealing a weapon, it becomes a lot more severe. Your prior arrest record can also make a big difference with the penalty.