Shoplifting offenses are very common in the U.S. Most shoplifting crimes are minor, but that does not mean that the punishment will be. Some people are under the impression that small time shoplifting is no big deal and even if you are caught taking items under $10, you will only receive a slap on the wrist. In an effort to detract theft, stores often look to crack down on shoplifters by prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law. This can mean serious consequences for the offender.
Maine’s shoplifting law states that theft under $500 is considered petty theft, but there is no minimum value. This means that a person who shoplifted a $10 set of markers can receive the same sentence as a person who took a $300 set of speakers. Shoplifting in any amount is a crime punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $1000 in fines. In addition, a shoplifting conviction will go on your criminal record which is available to potential employers and educational institutions. A theft crime can lead people to believe that you are not trustworthy.
These penalties tend to be unfair especially when the offender is a young person who did not fully understand the consequences of their actions. If a store wants to make an example of someone and fully prosecute for even a small theft, they are able to do so. While it would be a bad idea to advertise that theft under a certain amount is not an enforceable crime, many people would agree that putting a $2 candy bar in your pocket without paying is a very different crime than pulling the security tab off of a video game and running out of the store with it. Taking something without paying for it is never okay, but the punishment should fit the crime.