Shoplifting happens all the time in retail stores near and around North Andover. In fact, in 2011 shoplifting was the second most common arrest, with a total of 138 shoplifting-related arrests, and most of those arrests relating to shoplifting incidents that took place at the North Andover Mall. Females are more likely to engage in shoplifting. When shoplifting happens, sometimes the accused are actually guilty, while other times there has been a mistake or some sort of confusion and no actual theft has occurred. Regardless, if you have been charged with the crime of shoplifting, you need the support and knowledge that an experienced shoplifting defense attorney can provide.
Under Massachusetts law, shoplifting occurs whenever a person intentionally takes, tries to take or causes to be taken away, merchandise that is displayed, stored, held or offered for sale from a store or retailer with the intention of depriving the merchant or store of the item without payment. Both customers and employees of a store can commit the act of shoplifting. Shoplifting can take the form of:
- Swapping price tags on items to be purchased, such that when the item is scanned it will ring up at a lower price, or as a different item;
- Physically taking and concealing an article of merchandise to get it out of the store without payment (for example, placing an item in a purse, backpack or under a jacket and effectively smuggling the item out of the store);
- Manually typing in a false price for an item so as to override the price associated with the barcode on the item;
- Not scanning items at checkout, and giving the items to the customer without receiving payment, or at self-checkout lanes, failing to scan each and every item with the intention of not paying for the items that are not scanned; and
- Eating food while shopping and not paying for it.
What Are the Charges?
The precise charge for the crime of shoplifting depends on the value of the items that were shoplifted.
- When the item is <$100 and it is a first time offense, shoplifting is a misdemeanor offense and may require the payment of a $250 fee;
- When the item is <$100 and it is a second time offense, shoplifting is a misdemeanor offense and may require the payment of a $500 fee;
- When the item is >$100, the charge can be elevated to larceny;
- If the item is valued between $100-$249, the charge could be misdemeanor larceny; and
- If the item is valued between >$250, the charge could be felony larceny.
What is the Burden of Proof for Shoplifting?
When a defendant is charged with the crime of shoplifting, the state has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant took possession of the merchandise, with the intent to deprive the merchant of possession of the item and without payment for the merchandise, such that the merchant no longer possesses the merchandise and can no longer sell the merchandise. The state must also prove the value of the item that was stolen.
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