What you need to know about shoplifting in Massachusetts

On behalf of Brian D. Roman, Attorney at Law on Tuesday, July 21, 2015.

The vast majority of people consider shoplifting a relatively insignificant crime. While it's true that depriving a store owner of the value of his or her merchandise may not be as dangerous as other crimes, a conviction for shoplifting could nevertheless hold long-term ramifications for you. For example, a shoplifting conviction could make it difficult for you to find and keep steady employment. Your conviction may convince a potential employer to pass on your job application or decide to terminate you from your current job based on moral grounds.

Here are some interesting facts about shoplifting according to the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention:

– It's estimated that there are about 27 million shoplifters currently within the United States. Statistically, that means one in 11 people are shoplifters. Amazingly, within the last five years, police and other loss prevention workers have caught over 10 million people shoplifting.

– The demographics of shoplifters are quite interesting. Men and women shoplift with equal frequency, and three-quarters of all shoplifters are adults. Interestingly, most adult shoplifters report that they initially began shoplifting as teenagers.

– Most shoplifters do not engage in other types of crime. In fact, these individuals rarely steal personal items from friends and may even return lost money in some situations.

There are a few things you should know if you are currently facing shoplifting charges in Massachusetts. Police do not need to actually see you shoplifting in order to arrest you. Relying on a statement from a shopkeeper or his or her employee indicating that you have engaged in shoplifting is enough probable cause for your arrest. Sometimes, a criminal defense attorney can cast doubt on whether you intended to steal merchandise. That's because many shoplifters also purchase items during their store visits.

Additionally, a criminal defense attorney can suggest to a court that a substance abuse problem should be a mitigating factor considered in your shoplifting case. Research has shown that drug addicts who have also become addicted to shoplifting report similarities between the thrill of stealing and using drugs. For defendants who want help, an attorney might be able to convince a court to allow you to participate in alternative treatment programs. Typically, these programs are geared toward addressing the underlying issues of why you shoplift rather than focusing solely on your incarceration.

Source: Shoplifting Statistics, "National Association for Shoplifting Prevention," accessed July 22, 2015