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Nicholas W.

William R.

Criminal Defense Experience - 40+ Years

Is it shoplifting if I forgot to pay for an item at the store?

It is not shoplifting or petty theft if you forgot to pay for an item at the store and walked out with it.  It could become a theft at the point you realize you took the item without paying for it and decide not to return the item or pay for it.  Theft requires a specific intent where you knowingly take an item intending to permanently deprive the owner when you took it or decided to keep it.  Everyone can make a mistake, or forget something is in there cart, especially as you get older.  Intent is not something you can see and say that person had that specific intent, however, it is the circumstances surrounding the taking which may indicate that intent.

Most stores use security cameras and undercover store security guards that observe the customers.  There are things some shoppers do which draw attention to them and they may be watched more closely, like bringing in an empty bag to a store, looking around alot, taking alot of clothes into the changing room or trying to conceal merchandise.  Clearly it does not look like a simple mistake if you take an item out of its packaging and conceal it in your underwear or under your clothes or in a purse.  Certainly an intent to steal seems to be self evident in those kind of actions, those actions are not ambivalent.  There are circumstances where it appears to be accidental or at least arguably accidental.

Therft offenses, including shoplifting, can have devastating effects on a person’s career, employment, education, licensing and even immagration status.  Even if you feel there is no legal defense, it is important to a contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to review your case, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to not only check for possible defenses, but resolve your case with lesser charges or penalties if there is no defense.  An individuals background, lack of record, education, licensing, military service and many other factors unique to an individual can be used to help negotiate the best resolution in your case.  Call Attorneys Nicholas or William Christoph at 760-941-5720 for a free consultation and review of your case.  Christoph Law Offices have been across from Vista Courts for over 32 years handled hundreds of theft cases and provide the highest level of quality personal representation.


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