What are Shoplifting Laws in Delaware?
Shoplifting or theft is a serious offense that involves stealing goods from a retail store unnoticed in order to possess the same permanently. The act includes removing or changing price tags, altering packaging or containers with the intention of paying less than the actual price of the item, removing security tags, concealing goods under clothing, within another item or package or in a bag among several others.
Children tend to take away a toy or candy out of innocence or to experience excitement but their parents or guardians should take care and make sure to pay for the items; failing to do so or pretending to be unaware of the minors’ act might invite serious trouble.
Like most other states in the United States, Delaware too has prescribed laws and penalties for shoplifting offense. Since the crime for long has been haunting the retailers, the authorities concerned have drafted stringent rules with severe penalties that include restitution, jail sentence, and heavy fines for the offenders.
Malls and retail outlets too have been on their toes by installing security cameras around their stores however, shoplifting or theft cases are still commonly seen. It is to be understood that the accused, even before proved guilty loses his reputation and several other opportunities such as University admission, employment and more.
Delaware Shoplifting (theft) Laws
Theft is classified as a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the value of the merchandise stolen.
Petty Theft: Also called class A misdemeanor, this is the lowest level of the offense under theft law, Delaware wherein the merchandise value is under $1500. It carries one year of confinement at the Department of Correction with a maximum fine of up to $2300. The court will also order restitution in order to compensate the victim for the losses incurred.
Class G Felony: When the value of the merchandise stolen amounts to $1500 or over, it is considered as a class G felony theft. However, regardless of the value of the goods, certain shoplifting or theft cases are, under some circumstances, regarded as class G felony:
- The victim is aged 62 years or over
- The victim is disabled or an infirm adult, as specified in the Delaware law
This kind of theft carries a maximum sentence of up to 24 months at the Department of Correction coupled with a fine.
Shoplifting is also classified as a class G felony when the goods shoplifted come from separate stores, in a ‘spree’, with the total value of the goods amounting to $1500 or more.
Class E Felony: If the merchandise value is over $50,000 but less than $1,00,000, it is considered as a class E felony under Delaware law. The sentence for such an offense carries maximum imprisonment of up to 5 years at the Department of Correction coupled with a fine.
Along with the criminal penalties, the offender or the legal guardian of a minor shoplifter will be responsible for the losses that come with shoplifting. If the accused or the guardian of the accused pays the full retail value of the goods in addition to the penalty, he would be released of his civic liability.
First-time offenders have an opportunity in Delaware. They can enroll for ‘Probation before judgment’, a diversion program wherein they accept their mistake without trial and complete a probation period. This is a great option for such offenders to put their experience behind and move ahead in life without worrying about any serious consequences.
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