We all know that shoplifting is a crime. However, what many people don't know is that you can be accused of doing it even though you only shoplifted by accident. There are numerous situations where this can happen, and it can lead to a lot of confusion and could drastically impact your life if you don't get legal help. This is because you can't accidentally shoplift in the state of Maine. To shoplift, you have to intend to do it. But proving you didn't intend to shoplift can be difficult.
Maine's Shoplifting Law
Back in 2007, Maine changed how a lot of its laws were organized. Instead of having one law for every different kind of theft – which include property crimes like larceny, embezzlement, and shoplifting – Maine consolidated them all into one category: Theft.
In order to commit theft in Maine, you have to intentionally take control of someone else's belongings, without having their permission. When it comes to shoplifting, there are some clear situations where this is happening. For example, you can grab something off a shelf, hide it in your coat, and walk out of the store. Or you could grab something and then make a sprint for the exit.
However, there are also some situations where it's less clear that you're shoplifting. These situations are surprisingly easy to get caught up in. Worse, they could carry severe repercussions if you don't get the legal help you need to fight off a criminal conviction.
Gray Areas in Shoplifting
There are two parts of Maine's theft law that create gray areas, when it comes to shoplifting: Intention, and permission.
One of the most important parts of Maine's theft law is that you have a culpable state of mind in order to violate it. You can't commit theft accidentally. Instead, you need to intend to deprive someone else of their property. Unfortunately, this can become a problem because it's so difficult to prove. You might be trying on clothes in a store and forgot that you had some of them still on, or you could get distracted and decide to leave while still holding on something that you hadn't paid for. In either of these cases, you didn't intend to leave the store without paying. Nevertheless, the store can still accuse you of trying to shoplift, and you could still face criminal charges.
Permission is another issue. Beauty stores and grocery stores frequently offer customers free samples. While accepting these samples often intentionally deprives a store of its property, you're doing it with their permission. Nevertheless, stores can accuse customers of shoplifting if they think they're taking too much.
Criminal Defense Attorney William T. Bly
In either of these situations, you could find yourself being charged with shoplifting and facing serious criminal charges. If convicted, you could face a significant fine and even jail time. Additionally, having a conviction for shoplifting on your criminal record can make it difficult to get a job.