Season’s Greetings from Castillo Law
It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps . . . means a little bit more!–Dr. Seuss
The holidays are a time to show the special people in our lives how much we care about them. While we’re busy toiling away as Santa’s little helpers, let us not forget that with the impending family dinners, outings and holiday parties, this can also be a time burdened with a lot of stress. Castillo Law would like to highlight some ways to avoid the manifestation of this stress into criminal charges this year.
Don’t Let Holiday Stress Take You to the Dark Side
Unfortunately, holiday stress can sometimes bring out the worst in us. Whether the cause is not having the money to buy gifts, partaking in a little too much alcohol at the office Christmas party, or not having the restraint to keep your cool when your not-so-favorite uncle sparks a debate about the election, all of these situations, when escalated, can lead to criminal charges. Normally, we’d give you the rundown of all the ways you can get in trouble over the next couple of weeks. However, we’ve been seeing a steady increase in the amount of shoplifting cases coming through our doors this season. Law enforcement has caught up to the shoplifting trend, and officers will be in full force at all your local department stores for the holidays. We’re here to help!
Without trying to put a damper on the holiday celebrations, Castillo Law would like to remind all of you to be cognizant of your friends and family who may not be fortunate enough to have the money to go shopping this season. It is also important to help support those loved ones who may be battling depression or who are susceptible to impulse control episodes during this time of year. Please remember, when communicating with said loved ones, try to voice your concerns in a non-judgmental manner. Now, let’s add some context to why people Shoplift.
Shoplifting is on the Rise During the Holidays
While people shoplift for many reasons, in NBC’s controversial article, “Five-Finger Discount for Shoplifters Seeking Holiday High,” it is suggested that shoplifting incidents rise around the holidays due to the need for an emotional boost for the “holiday blues.” Their analysts claim that the holidays make people so depressed that they usually shoplift for themselves. Barbara Staib of the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, concludes that the vast majority of people who shoplift do it out of personal issues.
According to Dr. Talih, Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry, in some circumstances, people who shoplift are battling a psychological disorder brought about during negative life events. He theorizes, if there is some type of trauma that the person has faced in their lifetime, a need to take control can cause the person to shoplift. This is sometimes referred to as kleptomania.
Despite all of the research done on why people shoplift, perhaps there is a more obvious answer. Perhaps the expectation made by the media to buy items, family members wanting gifts for the holidays, and the simple desire, appreciation and admiration we get when we give, can pressure someone so much that they feel the “need” to shoplift. With all the aforementioned holiday stressors, this idea doesn’t seem far off. Who wants to tell their 5-year-old that Santa won’t be putting the gifts on their list under the tree this year? For those who are fortunate enough to have a little extra to spend on the holidays, there are several organizations that arrange Christmas gifts for the less fortunate. This is a great way to take some of the pressure off families who are hurting. If you see a family member who is struggling, sometimes having the family agree to a white elephant exchange, buying only child gifts, or drawing names will lift some of the burden.
While the causes are vast, it is extremely important to restrain from Shoplifting, especially since many stores’ shoplifting detection technology is extremely advanced these days. Additionally, there are many decoy shoppers and loss prevention officers on the floor looking for shoplifters. With an estimated $112 billion worth of loss from retailers each year, stores take even the smallest shoplifting property loss very seriously. Further, stores are on high-alert, since most of them see an increase in loss due to theft between Black Friday and Christmas. Thus, it’s nearly impossible to “get away” with shoplifting.
Unforeseen Circumstances from Shoplifting
Shoplifting cases can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies depending on certain qualifying criteria. If the value of the items shoplifted is $2,000 or more, it can be charged as a class 5 felony; if the items are valued at $1000-$2000, it can be charged as a class 6 felony. If the shoplifting item is a firearm, it can be charged as a class 6 felony. If the Defendant switches the tags of items so that they are cheaper, or uses an artifice to shoplift, in some cases, the defendant can be charged with Fraudulent Schemes under ARS §13-2310, which is a class 2 felony. The punishment usually depends on the value of the item, whether the offender has priors, or the manner in which the item was shoplifted. No matter what the value of the item, shoplifting charges reap far more drastic repercussions for the offender in the future than what is normally given as a criminal sanction. Offenders often get passed up for jobs or promotions, and they could also lose contracts because of the fact that shoplifting is considered a crime of moral turpitude. If you are considering a career that requires a fingerprint card, Shoplifting can often be the basis for a fingerprint denial.
It is important to note that most courts do not recognize depression or impulse disorders as a defense in Shoplifting cases. However, a disorder can be a mitigating factor. A Diversion may be a potential option for a first time offender. Diversion is a class offered by some prosecuting agencies, which results in a dismissal, depending on where the suspect is arrested, the value of the shoplifted property, and other circumstances.
Spread the Christmas Cheer with your Loved Ones this Year
The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a family all wrapped up in each other. –Burton Hillis
If you feel you are battling with depression and/or a psychological disorder like kleptomania, or if you know somebody who is, the first step is to seek help from a treating professional. If you find yourself stressed from the holidays and pressured to buy gifts, explain to your family that you cannot afford to buy gifts this year. Finally, if you are contacted by police or loss prevention, or you believe you may be under investigation for shoplifting, do not sign any statements or fall for the loss prevention officer tactic that, “if you agree to pay, we will not call the police.” Instead, ask to speak with an attorney immediately.
Of course, to keep all bases covered, please review our past articles to help avoid being charged with a DUI, Disorderly Conduct, or Assault charges, which are also common during the holiday season. Keep in mind, over the holiday season, several police departments have implemented DUI task forces under the “Drive Hammer Get Nailed” campaign.
We hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. Take this time to appreciate what’s really important: your health, family and friends.
Castillo Law is available 24/7 to take your call at 480-206-5204.