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The complex issue of shoplifting

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2018 | Criminal Defense |

Sometimes, small habits can lead to unexpected and damaging consequences. Although shoplifting is a serious crime in most states, including West Virginia, it is often a complex problem with which individuals may struggle internally — therefore masking the issue to others. For some, it can become simply another aspect of life.

Despite what many might assume, the drive to shoplift is not always to fulfill a material greed, either; financial problems and other life obstacles can lead to pressing situations. With the harsh penalties that come with theft charges, it is understandable that West Virginians facing court procedures may express confusion over future legal complications. There are many ways, however, to get to the bottom of the issue to best move on with life.

The Basics  

Unfortunately, law enforcement does not typically consider intent when handling shoplifting cases. The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention informs the public that, after a first shoplifting offense in West Virginia, a misdemeanor charge and fine of no more than $250 apply. However, the circumstances in this situation require that the item stolen is less than or equal to $500. If the price of the product exceeds this amount, one could face fees and jail time of no more than 60 days. As with many crimes, the second or third offenses come with steeper consequences: a second offense could result in six months’ jail time, and a third — despite the value of the stolen item — could result in a felony. 

The Circumstances

The penalties that come with shoplifting charges can be serious, but there are often other sides to this issue. Money magazine noted that the cost of food alone could send some families into desperate situations; at the time of the 2015 article, beef was the top stolen product in the country. While skyrocketing beef prices over the years could be one factor leading to this issue, poverty in general places many West Virginians in difficult conundrums when it comes to bringing food to the table.