What is the Difference Between Shoplifting and Theft? 

 October 18, 2018

By  LMW Attorneys

Shoplifting, theft, larceny, burglary, robbery—what do they all mean? Are they all the same or different? The world of law can be confusing, but it’s imperative to understand legal terms or have a legal professional guide you through the process if you or a loved one has been charged with a crime like shoplifting or theft. So what exactly is the difference between the two?

Were you charged with Shoplifting or Theft in New Port Richey, FL? Call us at (727) 478-4125 or
schedule a free legal consultation with an attorney to discuss and understand your legal options.

What is Shoplifting?

Shoplifting falls under the “umbrella” of larceny and is a type of theft usually involving stealing merchandise from a store or some sort of business. Although shoplifting is a type of theft, it typically has a specific set of punishments and is addressed differently than other theft crimes. Shoplifting generally means taking an item from a store; however, certain states have altered the laws to include concealing an item in the store or altering a price tag to pay a lower price. Whatever the scenario, to be considered shoplifting, the crime usually has two elements:

1. Taking another’s possessions that are for sale by willfully concealing the items
2. The individual’s intentions are to deprive the rightful owner of the item(s), meaning taking them without paying

Difference Between Shoplifting and Theft | Shoplifting vs. Theft

Theft is a very broad concept and encompasses a myriad of other legal terms. To put it simply, theft, also known as larceny, is when someone steals another’s property with the intent to deprive them of their possession—essentially meaning you didn’t just borrow the item. Theft is an umbrella term because it can represent a variety of specific types of larceny. Anything from stealing a pack of gum or a more serious crime like stealing a vehicle are all considered types of theft.

What are the Charges of Shoplifting?

Just as theft crimes will have a broad range of punishments, shoplifting crimes will too, depending on the specific case. The punishment will typically be influenced by the value of the stolen goods and can range from a low-level infraction to a felony charge. Generally, the prosecutor will decide between varying levels of charges and will take into consideration past charges and criminal records. Oftentimes, a shoplifting charge will result in a fine without jail time; however, felonies can result in large fines and lengthy jail sentences. Ultimately, shoplifting is a type of theft that falls under one of the multiple kinds of larceny. Although a shoplifting incident may be considered just an infraction, it’s important to seek the appropriate legal advice regardless of the severity.

Should You Hire an Attorney For Your Theft or Shoplifting Charge?

The legal team at LMW Attorneys has the skills and experience to help guide you or a loved one through a trying time surrounding your theft or shoplifting case. Were you or a loved one charged with theft or shoplifting in New Port Richey, FL? Call us at (727) 478-4125 or schedule a free legal consultation with an attorney to discuss and understand your legal options.