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Laws Against Stealing

What is considered stealing?

Stealing is the act of taking a person's property without their consent and not returning it. Known by many other names, stealing is also known as thieving, filching, looting, shoplifting, larceny, burglary, embezzlement, and robbery. Stealing is a crime, and depending upon what a person steals will greatly depend upon the punishment issued. Jails and prisons are full of people who steal, but these people usually are repeat offenders and choose not to stop stealing. Below are a few of the more popular questions about stealing charges and stealing laws.

If caught shoplifting, can the store press additional charges for shoplifting if they have footage of prior thefts by the person including the most recent theft?

Case Details: The person stole $60worth of merchandise.

If the store has footage of you and can identify you from previous thefts, it is very possible that you would be charged for two separate counts of stealing. You may not know what you will be charged for until you appear in court for the arraignment.

Usually, first time offenders of stealing with no prior history with the justice system are treated fairly. In your situation, the value of the merchandise that you took is under $150 and would be considered a summary offense. It is possible to receive up to 90 days, however more than likely you won't spend any time in jail for the offense. You may be eligible for a certain type of probation called ARD (accelerated rehabilitative disposition. If you take ARD, upon completion of your probation, this situation would be dismissed. Another option would be to pay the fine and/or community service, however this would remain on your criminal record for up to 5 years, at which time it would be expunged so long as there in no further issues with the court.

Does the law allow a person to be arrested for stealing on the word of an employee if there is no video evidence?

You can be arrested if there is a witness to the crime. If the employee saw you steal something and reports it, the police can arrest you based on probable cause. Probable cause is the belief that a person has committed a crime based on witness accounts or evidence based on an investigation. With the employee stating that they witnessed the theft, the police would have enough probable cause to arrest you for stealing.

It will take more than the employee saying that they saw you steal to convict you of the charges. The prosecutor would have to convince a jury that you are guilty of stealing beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor has nothing more than the employee's statement, it may be possible to avoid the charges if after cross-examination, the jury finds the employee's statements less than solid. If this happen, there is room for doubt, and the jury would have to find you not guilty of the charges. If in fact, you didn't steal anything, you will need to have an attorney to assist you through the hearing. If you don't have an attorney at the arraignment, you need to plead not guilty and ask for a public defender if you won't be able to afford an attorney. If you are appointed a public defender, you will meet the attorney at the next hearing.

You shouldn't attempt to handle this case without an attorney. The outcome of the trial may affect you for years and the assistance of an attorney can shorten those affects considerably. More than likely you will only receive probation and maybe a fine, as long as what you stole wasn't extremely valuable. However, it is important to have an attorney represent you in the trial.

Is it legal to trap an employee stealing from others' lockers by placing marked bills and then searching all employees before leaving for the day?

This may be legal, however, another option would be to install a policy that if there is suspicion of theft, the person in question will be expected to empty their pockets. This is much more effective in stopping theft in the workplace.

You have the right as an employer, to take steps in preventing the theft of your property and that of your employees. In order to perform searches of the employees, you need to install a policy that allows for searches. You want the policy in place before attempting to "force' a search. You don't want to get into a situation where an employee refuses to be searched and you fire them. You may be facing a law suit for wrongful termination.

Install the employee search policy, post it so that all employees are aware of the new policy and the reason for the policy. Once everyone has had time to understand the new policy, if you still wish to plant the marked bills and conduct a search, you will be protected under the policy for a reasonable search, and you would have a much better case if someone was to refuse the search.

Stealing can land you in jail and the crime will probably remain on your criminal record for some time. Regardless of the reason, if a person intentionally takes something that doesn't belong to them, they are stealing. If you have any doubts about questions about the punishment for stealing, you should contact an Expert in Criminal Law to clarify the punishment for stealing.

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Recent Stealing Questions

  • I received a ticket for 50 dollars for parking in a handicapped

    I received a ticket for 50 dollars for parking in a handicapped space at a K-mart. I am handicapped person, and I did put my tag on my front window. When I came out of the store I did notice my tag did fall down on my console. Thus, I guess the reason for the ticket. So I called the number on the ticket and told the woman I spoke to of the situation.
    She advised me to go to the police station and show the officer my tag. I went directly to the station, found the officer, and explained that my tag must have fallen. He said that he didn't see it and he doesn't give breaks to handicapped people. I explained that my tag had simply fallen down on my console. The officer said he looked in my windows and saw nothing. I said well my windows are tinted. You can't see inside. I didn't break the law, officer. He walked away and said well I don't take tickets aways from handicapped people and he walked away. I knocked on the door again and a different police officer came to the door. I asked to speak to the police chief. He said he was not available so I asked if he could take my name and number and when the chief had a moment, I requested he contact me so I could come in the station and discuss the situation. The chief never contacted me, and upon further research I think from what I understand the officer could have at least reduced my ticket fee from 50 dollars to 25. I pleaded not guilty and am willing to take this to a hearing. My question is do I have a chance of winning my case? I feel paying the ticket meant that I was pleading guilty to parking in a handicapped space when I am not handicapped, but I am. I would never do such a thing. I personally feel like this officer is breaking the law by stealing from me. He would not speak to me about the ticket or a resolution. I live in a small town, and I don't appreciate a wise guy officer of this sort. I don't feel I am guilty of breaking the law.
  • what does "conversion" mean in a criminal record?

    what does "conversion" mean in a criminal record?
  • My son was incarcerated for 2 yrs. He has been home for a year

    My son was incarcerated for 2 yrs. He has been home for a year now. while he was incarcerated he was on the work release program. he has not worked since he release. I tried to claim him on my taxes and he was rejected saying that someone else claimed him. While he was working he contributed to a 401-k plan. He was in need of money so he tried to get back what he put in....and was told that someone cash out his account.
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