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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 26444
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Can I be charged with theft/shoplifting if I didn't leave

Customer Question

Can I be charged with theft/shoplifting if I didn't leave the store? And is it up to the store to decide whether or not to press charges
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.
Hello Jacustomer,

Unfortunately yes. There is no requirement that you leave the store with the goods in order to be charged with a shoplifting offense. If whatever actions you were seen to have done gives the store a reasonable belief that you intend to steal some property, that's all that the DA would need to file charges against you.

The store is the complainant on your case. If they call the police, you will be charged. If the store makes you sign something to keep out of the store and to pay a civil fine for what you've done, they can still call the police later and get you prosecuted anyhow. Sometimes, however, if the store doesn't involve the police, you will not be prosecuted.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
if the store decides NOT to press charges can the DA still prosecute me
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.

These stores get hit with shoplifters all the time. They know the drill. If they want to press charges they will involve the police. Once they have the file gets turned over to the prosecutor and the case is out of the store's hands and the police's hands as well. The storekeeper can call the DA and say he now wants the charges back, but whether that will happen or not will depend upon the prosecutor.

Soooo, it's the store's decision until after the police turn the file over. Then it's not.