“Accidental shoplifting” is a phrase or words I see often on forums and in discussions of retail theft issues. There is much argument over this very issue as well as much misunderstanding. It is my intent to shed some light on this issue so the reader (you) can make informed opinions of this.
What is “accidental shoplifting”?
Simply put it is when a person takes or conceals a retailers merchandise without paying for it. The person taking the items has no intent to steal or other wise deprive the retailer from his merchandise and the whole issue is a “mistake”. This can happen in a variety of ways too numerous to document here. Suffice it to say the incident was an accident. Hence the phrase “accidental shoplifting”. To be accurate this act is an accident and not a deception or lie to avoid legal action. Its simply a case where the shopper forgot, misplaced, concealed or the like the retailers merchandise and did not pay for it without intent to deprive retailer of said merchandise. This does not apply to persons who intended to steal but stated it was an “accident”.
Ok we now understand what “accidental shoplifting” is. Lets now discuss how this can or cannot apply to a persons defense of a retail theft charge. Many will tell you that a successful conviction requires the State to prove intent. These same people will say state cannot do so and thus mislead one into believing they can escape prosecution. Unless this person is a licensed Attorney they should not giving you legal advice nor should you be taking it. I have worked Loss Prevention (Retail Security) for quite some time and I can tell you this defense is seldom successful. In all my years as a Loss Prevention Professional along with my co workers and friends in field we hear this excuse about 90% of the time. Its rarely the truth. Now that being said some are truthful. Sadly if this same people follow the advice of some of the aforementioned they could find themselves dealing with the full consequences of a theft charge.
The Truth About Shoplifting and Theft Convictions
I know your in shock! How can I be convicted of theft without intent? Its simple. The DA will show video (if available) along with Police and Loss Prevention reports. This along with witness statements from all involved parties. The video is not going show any accidental concealment. Its going to show you select item(s) and walk past last point of sale. Only you know your intent. Where the law requires State (not you) to prove your case the DA will almost surely put you in position to prove your lack of intent. That will be near impossible to do. The DA will present you to jury as a thief. He will discredit your version of events. He will ask both Police and LP on stand how many times a shoplifters states the theft was an “accident”. It is very unlikely the jury believe your version of events. Its sad that the guilty effect the innocent in this way but its the truth. Ask yourself would you believe such a story? “Accidental shoplifting” happens but in this writers opinion it is not a wise defense.
Talk to your Attorney and discuss your options including a the aforementioned defense. Follow your Attorneys advice he (no other) is in best position to guide you through the legal process for a result that suits your situation best. This article is not intended to be used as legal advice that comes from a licensed Attorney in your area that you share an Attorney/Client relationship with. I am not an Attorney and the aforementioned advice should not be considered legal advice.
Visit our Retail theft forum for answers as well. found here http://retailtheftanswers.forumotion.com/