Stealing merchandise, or shoplifting, is illegal in Minnesota, and many retailers suffer losses as a result of this offense every year. Even with the increased security measures provided by modern technology such as security cameras, theft devices, and alarm systems, shoplifting remains a common offense.
If you are currently facing shoplifting charges, you should consider seeking legal representation early on in your case. This crime may be considered minor, but certain circumstances could lead to serious consequences upon conviction. Fortunately, a seasoned Minnesota shoplifting lawyer could fight for your rights both in and out of court and help you build a case against your charges.
Minnesota Shoplifting Laws
Under Minnesota law, shoplifting is a criminal offense that constitutes theft and is punishable under Minnesota Statutes § 609.52. The law generally defines theft as the deliberate and non-consensual taking of another’s personal property with the intent of depriving the owner of possession of that property. Depending upon the value of the shoplifted consumer goods, the criminal penalties imposed by the court could include payment of a fine of up to $100,000, time in prison for up to 20 years, or both, in some cases.
In addition to establishing shoplifting as a punishable offense, Minnesota law also enumerates the rights of merchants and retailers to temporarily detain those suspected of shoplifting. According to the law, a merchant may detain an individual they reasonably suspect of shoplifting for the purposes of identifying, questioning, or reporting them to police. Those who are temporarily detained by a retailer from whom they are accused of shoplifting are strongly encouraged to consult a Minnesota attorney with experience handling these cases.
Most Commonly Shoplifted Consumer Products
While the protocols for charging and prosecuting shoplifters are provided under the same state law, not all shoplifting cases are handled the same by the court. The type of item stolen by the defendant will often play a role in the outcome of the case. Some of the more frequently shoplifted consumer products include the following:
- Apparel and jewelry
- Electronics, such as laptops, smartphones, video games, and DVDs
- Food and drinks
- Over-the-counter medication
- Power tools and other home improvement materials
- Cosmetics, such as razors, make-up, perfume, and toiletries
The punitive measures taken against an alleged shoplifter will vary depending on several factors, such as the valuation of the stolen items and their intended use. An experienced lawyer in Minnesota could examine an accused person’s particular case to determine the best defense strategies to pursue for their unique circumstances.
A Minnesota Shoplifting Attorney Could Be Your Legal Advocate
Though shoplifting is a common offense and some defendants in these cases may avoid more severe criminal penalties, it is unwise to undergo the legal process without a dedicated attorney at your side. Shoplifting cases have some of the highest rates of unsubstantiated claims and instances of false accusations against defendants, and a Minnesota shoplifting lawyer could ensure that your legal rights are preserved and that you receive a fair outcome in your case. Contact us today to set up a confidential consultation and get started on your defense.