Tennessee, like most states, has specific laws in place regarding different kinds of theft. People can face criminal charges for everything from armed robbery to embezzlement. One form of theft that people tend to think of as not a big deal is shoplifting.
However, shoplifting is a serious criminal allegation that can have long-term consequences. Adults accused of shoplifting could face fines and potential jail time depending on the value of the items involved. Teenagers accused of shoplifting could also face criminal consequences. Their parents could have financial liability for the value of the items involved in the shoplifting offense.
Whether you face a shoplifting charge or your child does, developing a defense strategy is an important way to reduce the likelihood of long-term consequences from what was likely an impulsive or misunderstood act.
Shoplifting charges don't just result from theft
One of the most common misconceptions about shoplifting is that it only occurs if you leave the store with unpaid merchandise. However, a merchant who catches you in the act of hiding, altering or otherwise manipulating products with the intention of not paying their full retail price could bring shoplifting charges against you.
Examples of situations where someone does not leave the store but still winds up charged with a crime could include:
- Replacing a price tag on one item with a tag from another
- Altering a price tag to change how it rings up
- Putting items inside another item
- Intentionally hiding an unpaid item in a purse, backpack, coat or pocket
- Moving an item into a different container or packaging
- Intentionally manipulating a cash register or similar device
You don't even have to leave the store for loss prevention or security officers to stop you and charge you with a crime if they suspect these activities. A mistake on their part could result in serious criminal consequences for you or someone you love.
Treat all shoplifting allegations like a serious potential issue
Shoplifting isn't just a minor issue that results in a slap on the wrist and an obligation to pay the retailer. It is a serious theft charge with real consequences. You or your child could find yourselves dealing with a permanent criminal record as the result of a simple mistake. There is also the potential for jail time and fines if the value of the items is high enough.
Working with a Tennessee criminal defense attorney could help you avoid charges or aid you in defending against them if you are not able to negotiate a solution outside of court. The sooner you sit down to talk about the situation with a defense attorney, the more time you will have to prepare a defense strategy.