What are Shoplifting Laws in Alabama?
Shoplifting is a crime that is being done for several 100 years now. Of course, with the launch of CCTV cameras, this crime has reduced considerably. However, it continues even today. Many people know about this crime. But, they are not aware of its consequences. This is where it becomes important for every individual to be aware of certain things about this crime and its effects in Alabama:
What is theft in Alabama?
According to Alabama law, theft is knowingly exerting or obtaining illegal control over the belongings of another person. The accused should have done it with the intent of depriving the owner of his/her property. It also encompasses:
- Taking a property that is left in a dropbox for a charity.
- Taking control of stolen property under the control of a law enforcement agency.
- Deceiving a person of his property.
In Alabama, the shoplifting crime is brought under three separate categories. The classification is as follows:
If the value of the stolen items is more than $2,500, it will come under this category. Let us consider that the court convicts a person to have conducted first-degree shoplifting crime. In this case, the person will have to spend at least two and a maximum of 20 years in jail. The fine for this person will be a maximum of $30,000 for this category.
If the value of the stolen property is less than $500, the imprisonment period will be less than one year. The fine will be to a maximum of $6000.
In Alabama, the merchant or his employees can detain a person, whom they believe has stolen some goods. So, if a person is detained of this charge, it is accepted by the law.
Who is a suspected shoplifter in Alabama?
Indeed, merchants or their employees can detain any individual as a suspect for shoplifting in Alabama. However, they should do this only as per the state law. Only then, they can protect themselves from civil liability for false arrest, unlawful detention, or false imprisonment. According to the Shopkeeper’s statute, sellers can be safeguarded from any liability in this regard only if they have a probable cause to believe that the person has shoplifted. Also, the merchants or his employees can arrest a person only for a reasonable length of time. They should do this only in a reasonable manner. Here, the reasonableness will be decided based on the situation of each case.
The convicted shoplifter will be civilly liable for the victimized merchant. If the convict is a minor, the parents or legal guardians are liable. The merchants have the right to sue the person in civil court. They are entitled to the full retail value of the products if not recovered in a saleable condition. They can also sue the convicted for up to $1000 for court costs and attorney fees and expenses for the recovery of the products in a fixed amount of $200.
Getting legal help:
In Alabama, shoplifting is a serious crime with critical consequences. If a person has been accused of shoplifting, it is better to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. The lawyer will help the person in exploring different options. The options include negotiating plea bargains, raising defenses, and pursuing diversion programs. These options will help with bringing down the consequences of shoplifting charges.
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