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Shoplifting and its penalties

On Behalf of | Aug 1, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Compared to other forms of theft, shoplifting may seem like the least damaging to society. You might think that because you’re stealing goods from a store, you’re hurting no one else but a business that can easily replace its stocks. You might also think that because you’re only stealing essentials and small goods, your theft isn’t as bad as most other crimes, like robbing a bank.

But no matter how desperate your situation is, Idaho will treat any shoplifting as a crime. If you’re convicted of shoplifting, you’ll face fines, imprisonment and more.

The consequences of taking without paying

If you remove merchandise from a store without paying or walk out of the store while concealing the item, you will have to pay the store for the retail value of the stolen item, plus at least $100 in damages. The store can also hold you civilly liable for the theft, and you’ll have to pay the court and attorney fees related to the store’s lawsuit if it chooses to sue you.

Hiding merchandise while still inside a store also counts as shoplifting per Idaho law. If security or an officer catches you concealing items in-store, officials can charge you with retail theft, a criminal misdemeanor. Should the charge lead to a conviction, you face a maximum $1,000 fine and up to six months of jail time.

The offense would become a felony if the items you concealed cost $1,000 or more. Penalties for this crime include a maximum 14-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $5,000.

Shoplifting may be nothing like stealing someone’s car or robbing people at gunpoint, but it’s still a crime that leads to harsh penalties and a criminal record. Anyone facing retail theft charges might want to consider seeking legal advice on making their case, especially if their theft was motivated by financial hardship.