The holidays traditionally are a time of peace and joy, but often result in stress, over-shopping, and overindulgence. Unfortunately, the number of shoplifting and alcohol related crimes tend to increase during this time of year too. Some of us fall to the pressure of obtaining gifts we cannot afford and resort to shoplifting. Other simply make errors in judgement due to distractions and stressors of the season. Examples of these errors include forgetting to pay for the gifts you put in your reusable bag or the items you stored on the bottom of the cart. Still others forget to scan items at the self-checkout. Whether intentional or not, these errors can lead to Shoplifting charges.
In addition to surveillance video cameras, many businesses have non-uniformed loss prevention officers masquerading as secret shoppers who are looking to identify shoplifters. Sometimes people who steal or accidentally take the items immediately regret their actions and end up giving the items back or offering to pay for the items. However, this does not mean that criminal prosecution will be avoided.
Arizona defines Shoplifting as follows: A person commits shoplifting if, while in an establishment in which merchandise is displayed for sale, the person knowingly obtains such goods of another with the intent to deprive that person of such goods by: 1) Removing any of the goods from the immediate display or from any other place within the establishment without paying the purchase price; or 2) Charging the purchase price of the goods to a fictitious person or any person without that person’s authority; or 3) Paying less than the purchase price of the goods by some trick or artifice such as altering, removing, substituting or otherwise disfiguring any label, price tag or marking; or 4) Transferring the goods from one container to another; or 5) Concealment. A person is presumed to have the necessary culpable mental state if the person does either of the following: 1) Knowingly conceals on himself or another person unpurchased merchandise of any mercantile establishment while within the mercantile establishment or 2) Uses an artifice, instrument, container, device, or other article to facilitate the shoplifting:
The following are the levels of shoplifting related crimes in the state of Arizona:
- Class 4 Felony: If shoplifter uses an artifice, instrument, container, device or other article with the intent to facilitate shoplifting or who commits shoplifting and who has previously committed or been convicted within the past five years of two or more offenses involving burglary, shoplifting, robbery, organized retail theft or theft
- Class 5 Felony: Shoplifting property with a value of $2,000 or more, shoplifting property during any continuing criminal episode or shoplifting property if done to promote, further or assist any criminal street gang or criminal syndicate
- Class 6 Felony: Shoplifting property with a value of $1,000-$2,000
- Class 1 Misdemeanor: Shoplifting property valued $1,000 or less (unless the property is a firearm in which case the shoplifting is a class 6 felony)
Arizona criminalizes drinking and driving in different ways. Most importantly you need to know that any amount of alcohol or drugs (prescription or otherwise) that affects your ability to drive to the slightest degree is a basis to be charged with a DUI. Many people try to count their drinks or judge their consumption by how they feel. This is a recipe for disaster. The only safe way to celebrate the holidays if you drink is to drink without driving or by getting a designated driver, Uber or rideshare.
Assaults, disorderly conduct, and criminal damage can come in many forms as well especially when one is drinking. Because of this, it is better to avoid heated conversations after consuming alcohol or when the stress of the holidays is high. If you think you may be subject to a heated conversation, it is better to avoid the gathering or take someone you trust with you to keep you in check. Here are a few tips to keep you off the naughty list:
- Get a ride or designate a driver
- Avoid gatherings where alcohol is served if overindulgence is a problem
- Designate a sober buddy
- Set aside grievances with family for another time
- Be realistic with gift giving
- Stick to a budget
- Plan ahead
- Reach out to family, a friend, or a crisis center if you are feeling overwhelmed
- If you find yourself being questioned by police or a loss prevention officer, provide your identifying information but do not discuss the facts of the situation. Respectfully request to speak with an attorney immediately.
We hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. Take this time to appreciate what is really important: your health, family and friends.
Castillo Law is available 24/7 to take your call at 480-206-5204 or 602-795-6701.