What are shoplifting laws in Washington?
Shoplifting is the act of concealing goods belonging to a retail store in order to deceive the store owner of their retail value. In Washington, it is a criminal offense and invites stern punishments that include jail sentences and harsh fines. In addition, if you take away any item from a store without paying for it in this state, it is regarded as theft since the state laws do not differentiate between theft and shoplifting.
The theft charge is very embarrassing and does huge damage to your reputation, both professional and personal. Moreover, you need to know that even if you are still in the store, you could be charged with shoplifting if there is sufficient evidence to prove that you intended to hide the store merchandise.
However, many a time it so happens that the innocent get charged with shoplifting due to mistaken identity or some other misunderstanding. If you are facing such a charge, it is highly advised to get in touch with a Washington legal advisor right away. The legal professional will be able to help you since he understands the state laws pertaining to theft and comes with first-hand knowledge regarding the defense options available for the same.
Furthermore, you will be charged with shoplifting in Washington if you change price tags, hide an item inside another package, remove security tags or items from the store shelves. As with the other states, the severity of the charge depends upon the value of the stolen goods. Keeping mistakenly delivered or lost items/cash is also considered as theft in Washington; so, stay alert and avoid getting charged for the criminal offense since it will have serious consequences later.
Washington shoplifting laws: Penalties
If the value of the stolen goods is:
- Under $250, it is classified as a gross misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 12 months jail sentence and a fine of up to $5000.
- $250-$1500, it is regarded as a Level 1 Class C felony that carries a maximum penalty of 16 months in jail along with a fine of up to $10,000.
- Over $1500, it is classified as a Level 2 Class B felony that carries a maximum penalty of 43 months jail term coupled with a fine of up to $20,000.
Shoplifting charges in Washington will get quite serious. If you are charged with the offense, you might lose your job, education and housing opportunities and get banned from entering several retail stores. You will face hurdles and insults all along the way; to sum it up, your everyday life becomes a hell. It is better to not get into the act however, if you commit it out of impulse, reach out to an attorney as soon as possible.
Shoplifters in Washington are liable to the store owner for the full retail value of the stolen goods, reasonable attorney fees, and court costs. Victim merchants can sue the shoplifters in the civil court and recover for the losses suffered.
Most thefts in Washington are gross misdemeanors. If a minor commits shoplifting, their parents or legal guardians will be held responsible.
Juvenile diversion programs
Some counties offer diversion programs for the juveniles charged with shoplifting or theft that allow the young offenders to change their behavior while still being accountable for their mistake. In addition, the offenders, under these programs are made to serve the community and realize the consequences of their actions, which are intended to foster a transformation from within the individuals. The programs involve negligible fees while not requiring court appearances from the offenders’ end.
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