While you are out and about this holiday season, you will likely be hoping to find the right presents for each of your loved ones. You may have ideas in mind for certain people already, but others who are more difficult to buy for may need a bit more thought. Still, you hope to have your shopping finished well ahead of time.
What you may not anticipate, however, is facing criminal charges for shoplifting during this time. You may be perusing the shelves or racks at a store as usual with a few items in hand to consider purchasing, only to have an employee or manager accuse you of trying to steal something. At first you may be shocked and indignant, but when the police show up, you know you face a serious problem.
What constitutes shoplifting?
You may never have considered yourself someone who would break the law, especially by stealing. You understand the importance of paying for any items that you intend to take home with you. Still, shoplifting does not always mean that someone took an item from a store without paying. Charges could come about if any of the following actions take place:
- Changing the price tag on an item to pay a lower price
- Concealing an item while still in the store
- Putting an item in a different container in order to pay a lower price
- Changing the merchandise
Essentially, if someone suspects that you attempted to deprive the owners of the merchandise of possession without paying the full price of the items, you could face shoplifting charges. As a result, if you carried an item with you around the store as you considered whether to buy it, and then draped your coat over it as you reached for another item, an employee may have believed that you were concealing the item to take from the store.
What can you do?
You may believe that such a scenario is an easily cleared-up misunderstanding. However, it does not always work out that way. Many people believe that concealing an item shows intent to unlawfully take it from the store, and you could end up facing shoplifting charges as a result. The severity of the charges could depend on the value of the items involved.
If you face this type of situation, you will undoubtedly want to do your best to understand your legal options. You want your holiday season to include joy, not jail. Consulting with a Wisconsin attorney may help you find your best defense options.