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The 3 elements of a shoplifting charge

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2023 | Shoplifting

Shoplifting charges hinge on several crucial factors that the prosecution must establish to secure a conviction. You might think that shoplifting is just the act of taking an item without paying for it, but there are several other elements to consider.

The more you understand about building a shoplifting case, the easier it is to defend yourself when you face charges.

1. Intent

The key element of a shoplifting case is intent. Prosecutors must show that you had every intention to leave the premises without paying for the item in question. This is the factor that differentiates a mistake or an oversight from an act of theft. Prosecutors might consider concealment as evidence of intent.

2. Knowledge

You might not think about knowledge as it affects your shoplifting case, but it plays an important role. Prosecutors must prove that you knew the item was not yours and you had not paid for it. This means proving that you had a conscious understanding that you were taking something that did not belong to you. You might be able to dissuade this factor if you have justifiable reason to believe the item you left with belonged to you. For example, if you mistakenly pick up a pair of sunglasses that belong to the store instead of yours from the same table, you might believe that the sunglasses you carry are yours. In that case, you have no knowledge of the deceit.

3. Identity

Prosecutors must also prove the identity of the shoplifter. If identification hinges on an eyewitness for testimony, you may be able to cast doubt on their recollection or understanding.

Retailers suffered $112 billion in losses due to shoplifting and other shrinkage in 2023 according to the National Retail Federation. These losses can prove financially devastating over time, which is why many retailers are enthusiastic about loss prevention. Understanding these elements can help you fight a shoplifting charge.