There was a scenario happened at the supermarket, where an old gentleman was placing a cold medicine in his shopping bag temporarily, planning to pay on his way out of supermarket. Unfortunately, after this old gentleman put all his items from the shopping cart at the checkout point, he was accused of shoplifting because of the missed item, a cold medicine, still remaining in his shopping bag.
i) What do you think about this shoplifting scenario?
ii) Will this old gentleman be accused of shoplifting?
MY ANSWER: It depends!
The definition of "Theft under $5,000" under the Criminal Code (Section 322)
"Theft under $5,000" means that the offender took the item (under the value of $5,000) without any attempt or intention to pay, when he actually exited the supermarket in this scenario.
Summary Conviction or Indictable Offence under the law? (Section 334b)
The Crown Attorney can consider two sentencing options: Indictable offence and Summary Conviction, for the value of possession is under $5,000. Since the paralegal can only handle Criminal Summary Conviction, the maximum jail sentence under the Summary Conviction only discussed here is 6 months.
The Exit point of the supermarket
Most store guard will accuse the shoplifter, when he/she waits until the offender at the checkout point. Having said that the shoplifting is completed when the offender actually left the store, it is possible for the allegation even the offender hasn't left the store.
Section 322 (2) of the Criminal Code defines the timing of committing this offence:
"A person commits theft when, with intent to steal anything, he moves it or causes it to move or to be moved, or begins to cause it to become movable."
Therefore, the rationale of leaving the store is the final proof of "intent to steal" or "no attempt to pay" in this allegation.
The manner/support when the offender gets accused
- whether the offender did clarify about his being forgetful, but not intention of not paying the item?
- whether the old gentleman did offer to pay at the spot?
- whether his age, his medication, his illness and distraction at the supermarket etc. contributes to his being forgetful of not paying the item?
These are some of the questions to verify the allegation.
Intention not affordability as a defense
This old gentleman mentioned to the cashier that he can afford the item, so that there is no reason for him not paying it. Furthermore, he was paying for his other items that he bought from the supermarket at the checkout point.
Remember, it is your intention, not your affordability of the item, as a defense for this allegation.
Hence, this old gentleman may have his defense of "no intention", if the missed item is worth less than other items that he paid at the checkout point, as well as supported by his being forgetful.
What happens when someone got caught of shoplifting?
The offender will be taken to a security room and asked for personal information, such as name, date of birth and address.
The most common form of citizen's arrest involves shoplifting, which is made by store guard. This can happen under the circumstance when (i) a reasonable ground to believe that someone has recently committed a crime, and (ii) it is not feasible for the police to make an arrest, without applying excessive physical force than necessary.
The store guard must call the police immediately to take over as soon as possible.
Right to remain silent
Your right to remain silent, until the legal counsel will be present and accompany you when being questioned.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be construed as a legal advice, but strictly for information only in this entire website. Please contact Trustworthy Legal Service for your independent legal advice in your particular situation. The first consultation is also required prior to my retainer of your case.
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