CanI be charged with shoplifting if I did not leave the store?

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CanI be charged with shoplifting if I did not leave the store?

Asked on September 29, 2011 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Legally, yes--the offense of shoplifting does not require that you actually leave the store.

The issue--and possible defense for you--is factual: how can they show you were shoplifting if you had not yet left the store? If you had put items under your shirt, in your backpack, in your shoe briefcase, handbag, etc., then they would likely be able to establish that you were engaged in shoplifting, since there is no legitimate reason for a shopper to do that. On the other hand, if they just shoe you were holding items, had taken them into a dressing room, etc., then they may not have enough, since you had not left yet, to establish that you had been shoplifting. So yes, you *could* be charged with shoplifting in this case, depending on the specific facts and circumstances.


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