More and more stores are increasing the number of self-checkouts available and decreasing the number of cashiers. While using a self-checkout is often convenient and easy, it can also leave you vulnerable to shoplifting charges. It’s important to understand the behaviors that can lead to criminal charges and to hire a criminal defense attorney if you have been accused of shoplifting.
Definition of Shoplifting In Arizona
To understand how you could get charged with shoplifting based on behavior at a self-checkout, you’ll need to know what is considered shoplifting in Arizona.
Under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 13-1805, the following actions are considered shoplifting:
- Removing goods from the establishment without paying the purchase price
- Charging the price of an item to someone else without their authority, or to a fictitious person
- Paying less than the price by using a trick, such as removing or altering a label
- Transferring goods from one container to another to avoid paying the purchase price
- Concealing the items to avoid paying the purchase price
The Role Of Intent
Significantly, the statute also specifies that you must have knowingly taken these actions in order for shoplifting charges to apply. Accidentally taking an item out of the store is not the same as intentionally walking out without paying.
It’s easier than you may think to make a mistake at self-checkout that could be misconstrued as shoplifting. In other cases, individuals may take these actions intentionally while trying to pretend they were honest mistakes. The intent behind the action is key in determining whether the action could be prosecuted as shoplifting, which can be difficult to prove. Working with a skilled attorney can help you achieve the best possible outcome.
Common Issues At Self-Checkouts
The below actions could result in shoplifting charges, even if they were honest mistakes. Again, the key distinction (and what you will have to prove in court to avoid a conviction) is whether you knowingly took these actions in order to take items at less than purchase price.
If you’re distracted or scanning quickly, you may not realize that an item hasn’t been scanned and place it in your bag without paying. Most self-checkouts have weight sensors to prevent this issue, but it’s still possible for this to happen, especially with small items.
Inputting the wrong code for produce or other items without a scannable barcode can result in a different price. If this price is lower than the actual price for the item you’re purchasing, it could be considered shoplifting. This can often happen if you forget a “9” for an organic item, for example. You may also misremember a code and pay a lower price without even realizing it.
A shoplifter could alter the weight of a produce item to pay less for it, such as by lifting it up slightly or placing it off the side of the scale. While this is a crime if done intentionally, you could also do it inadvertently.
What To Do
Criminal charges are overwhelming in general, and this can be even more confusing when they arise from an honest mistake. Our team can help you navigate your legal case.