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When there is a theft of merchandise from a shop or store or a place of business then it is known as “Shoplifting”. Shoplifting is a type of larceny, where property of someone else is taken without their permission, and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property taken.

State laws vary widely, but generally, shoplifting offenses includes two elements (1) willfully concealing or taking possession of items being offered for sale; and (2) the intent to deprive the items’ rightful owner (typically the store) of possession of the items, without paying the purchase price.

Like charges for other types of theft, the severity of shoplifting charges generally depends on the value of the goods involved. States laws often include a range of charges, and can allow prosecutors discretion in deciding which charges to pursue in a given case. In many states, the range of shoplifting charges runs from a low level “infraction,” to misdemeanor, up to differing degrees of felony charges.

Generally, store owners and their employees are allowed to detain an individual when they have probable cause to suspect shoplifting. However, any such detention of a suspected shoplifter must be reasonable in length and manner. Detentions without probable cause, for an unreasonable amount of time, or in an unreasonable manner may leave the store open to liability for false imprisonment and possibly other claims.

Depending on state law and factors including the value of items shoplifted, it may be charged as an infraction, a misdemeanor or a felony, and may result in incarceration, probation and/or a fine and can have serious immigration consequences.

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