Everyone knows that it is a criminal offence to take something which does not belong to you.  Yet what most people don’t realize is that just because you leave the store with an item that was not paid for, does not necessarily mean that you stole that particular item.  In every criminal case, (without exception) the prosecution must always establish two elements, 1) the actus reus of the offence (the physical element of the crime), and 2) the mens rea (the mental element of the crime).  For the offence of theft (or shoplifting) the actus reus is the physical taking of something without paying for it.  As for the mens rea the prosecution would have to establish that the taking was intentional.

Take for example a mother who went grocery shopping with her five-year-old child.  The child was seated in the shopping cart while the mother went about her purchases.  Unbeknownst to the mother the child leaned out of the shopping cart, took a chocolate bar off the shelf and placed it into the mother’s purse which was next to the child in the shopping cart.

When mother reached the cash, she paid for all the items in her shopping cart but seeing that she had no knowledge that the child had placed the chocolate bar in her purse she did not pay for it.  In fact, it is only when she arrived home and emptied her purse, did she discover the chocolate bar.  

Clearly the mother has taken something that did not belong to her without paying for it.  Yet assuming that she is able to raise a reasonable doubt on the question of intent (that she left the store knowing that she had not paid for the bar) she would be entitled to an acquittal.

Although shoplifting charges may appear to be banal they are very much real, and may have serious consequences.  Stores and other merchants lose millions of dollars every year to shoplifting, and they are vigilant in seeking prosecution if for no other reason other than deterrence.

What Steven Slimovitch Can Offer You

When you or someone you know has been charged with theft or shoplifting, it is important to retain the services of an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. As regards consequences, a conviction for shoplifting is serious and usually results in a criminal record. Steven Slimovitch is a highly skilled and experienced criminal defence lawyer with a very impressive track record in this area. He has defended countless people accused of theft and has successfully supported them throughout the legal process and enabled them to get their lives back on track often avoiding a criminal record.