According to Massachusetts law, shoplifting charges can be brought against any individual for stealing goods from a retail store.
However, shoplifting charges can also be brought for hiding goods on your body or elsewhere or changing a price tag or changing the package.
Sometimes you see the phrase shoplifting by asportation. Asportation simply means taking away goods from a retail store. If you think about it, “shoplifting” is a rather strange word; after all, you are not trying to lift a shop. The word was coined to mean stealing from a store while pretending to be a customer.
Shoplifting by Asportation or Concealing Merchandise
In order to prove that the Defendant is guilty of Shoplifting by Asportation or Shoplifting by Concealing Merchandise, the prosecutor must prove 3 things beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That the individual knowingly took away or hid on his/her body or elsewhere any goods in a retail store,
- That the goods were owned by someone other than the individual who took them, and
- That the individual did the act with the intention of not paying full value for them.
Shoplifting by Switching Price Tag
In order to prove an individual is guilty of Shoplifting by Switching Price Tag, the prosecutor must prove 4 things beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That the selling price of the goods owned by someone other than the individual was printed or written on a shopping label or price tag,
- That the individual knowingly removed, changed or switched the shopping label or price tag,
- That the individual tried to buy the goods for less than the full retail price, and
- That the individual did the act with the intention of not paying the full retail value.
Shoplifting by Switching Containers
In order to prove that an individual is guilty of Shoplifting by Switching Containers, the prosecutor must prove 4 things beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That the retail goods were in a package,
- That the goods were owned by someone other than the individual,
- That the individual intended to move the goods from one package to another, and
- That the individual intended not to pay the full retail price.
Penalties for Shoplifting Charges
- For shoplifting charges under $100, the maximum penalty for a 1st offense is $250; for a 2nd offense, $500; for a 3rd offense, 2 years in a county jail and/or a fine of $500.
- For shoplifting charges of $100 or more, the maximum penalty is 2 ½ years in a county jail and/or a fine of $1,000.
What to Do if You are Charged with Shoplifting
Obviously, you are best off if you are never charged with shoplifting. However, if you find yourself in that embarrassing predicament, you should immediately call a Massachusetts criminal lawyer to protect your job, student loans, immigration status and reputation in the community. The attorney can explain to you in simple terms the complicated legal process involved with a Clerk’s Hearing, arraignment, pre-trial conference, motion, compliance & election, plea bargaining and trial, if necessary. The attorney will also explain the options available to you to get the best outcome possible.