Marisa C. McIntyre, Esq.

Pros of Litigation

Courts encourage out-of-court settlements, making it clear that courts either expect or contemplate that victims of theft will likely attempt to resolve their disputes with theft offenders via demand letters before ever filing suit. In fact, some statutes require that a demand letter be sent offering to settle a civil claim before suit can be filed. Parties are encouraged to attempt to work out...

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Concealment = Shoplifting

It is a common misbelief that in order to commit the act of shoplifting, an individual must exit the store and permanently deprive the merchant of the unpurchased merchandise. The truth is, however, that in most states, an individual commits the act of shoplifting by taking actions that would cause one to reasonably believe that he intends to permanently deprive the merchant of the goods. Most states require that the merchant have probable cause (or reasonable grounds) to believe that an individual has committed an act of theft or is attempting to shoplift before making a decision to detain the individual to determine if their observation was correct. Probable cause or reasonable grounds is not limited to observing the individual exiting the store with unpurchased merchandise. In addition to clear cases of theft, such as when a person opens a product’s container, consumes the contents and fails to pay for the product, probable cause or reasonable grounds to detain and make inquiry can also be obtained by observing an individual conceal unpurchased merchandise or in some states, by the activation of EAS even if the individual was not observed concealing merchandise. The majority of states do not require that an individual exit the store in order to have a civil cause of action for shoplifting.

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No Damage Does Not Mean No Damages

Many are under the assumption that a retailer does not sustain any damages if the merchandise stolen in a shoplifting incident is recovered in merchantable condition. However, this is not the case. Just because the merchandise is not damaged does not mean there are no legal damages.

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Civil vs. Criminal: What is the Difference?

The difference between a civil claim and a criminal claim and the fact that there can generally be either a civil or criminal claim or both simultaneously stemming from the same incident is hard for many people who are caught shoplifting to understand.  Most are familiar with the criminal procedure: when you break the law, the police are called and you’re arrested.  You then are given a court...

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Merchant Detention Statutes: What is Considered a Reasonable Detention?

As a follow up to last week’s article by Michelle Gomez which discussed the length of time that is considered reasonable under states’ merchant detention statutes, this article will focus on what actions are considered reasonable during a detention. All of the statutes are similar in that they allow a merchant to detain a person in a reasonable manner when the merchant has reasonable cause to believe that the person has or is attempting to unlawfully take merchandise from the premises. But what does “in a reasonable manner” mean exactly?

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