Charged with Shoplifting?

Shoplifting is the informal term for what the criminal code of Tennessee calls theft of property.  Tennessee law defines theft of property as follows: “A person commits theft of property if, with intent to deprive the owner of property, the person knowingly obtains or exercises control over the property without the owner’s effective consent.”

Theft of property carries different penalties depending on the amount of the property that is taken. Generally, shoplifting refers to theft of property under $500.

In Tennessee, the definition of “theft of property” is expanded when it comes to taking stuff from merchants.  Tennessee has a separate law called “theft of property – conduct related to merchandise.”

This law provides that a person commits theft of property with regard to merchandise, if the person:

(1)  Conceals the merchandise;

(2)  Removes, takes possession of, or causes the removal of merchandise;

(3)  Alters, transfers or removes any price marking, or any other marking which aids in determining value affixed to the merchandise;

(4)  Transfers the merchandise from one (1) container to another;

(5)  Causes the cash register or other sales recording device to reflect less than the merchant’s stated price for the merchandise;

(6)  Removes, destroys, deactivates, or evades any component of an anti-shoplifting or inventory control device to commit or facilitate a theft;

(7)  Uses any artifice, instrument, container, device, or other article to commit or facilitate a theft; or

(8)  Activates or interferes with a fire alarm system to commit or facilitate a theft.

Under these shoplifting, or theft of property laws, the government generally must prove that you intended to shoplift or take property that didn’t belong to you.  For the traditional theft of property law, the government must also show that you exercised control over the product.  For the law involving other conduct involving merchandise, the government doesn’t need to show that you have control over the product – just that you committed one of the acts described above.

Sometimes a person is charged with shoplifting when he or she didn’t mean to take the property. They may have purchased several items and left one on the bottom of his or her cart.  In other words, sometimes people are charged with shoplifting, when they really didn’t intend to commit an act of theft. Unfortunately, even after a simple mistake, a shoplifting charge is still possible.

In addition to a theft conviction looking terrible on your record and to future employers, if convicted of shoplifting, you could be sentenced to 11 months and 29 days in jail and may have to pay restitution, or pay back, the merchant.

For these reasons, an experienced criminal defense attorney is pertinent to your case.  The attorneys at PNC Law have what it takes to handle your shoplifting case and will work diligently to address all matters specific to your case.

If you are charged with shoplifting, contact the attorneys at PNC Law!