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Shoplifting offenses can lead to multiple criminal charges

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2023 | Criminal Defense

If a person is caught shoplifting in New Hampshire, they don’t just face one criminal charge. The offense can violate several different laws depending on certain factors, and each violation has a corresponding penalty on conviction.

The law on shoplifting

Per state law, a person commits theft with the purpose of depriving a merchant of goods if they knowingly remove merchandise from a store’s premises, alter any price marking, cause a cash register to reflect less than the state price of a good or transfers goods from one container to another.

If a retail theft charge leads to a conviction, the penalties the convicted faces can vary depending on certain factors:

  • Theft involving stolen items worth less than $1,000: The convicted gets a misdemeanor on their criminal record, which is punishable by up to a year in prison and $2,000 in fines.
  • Theft involving stolen items worth between $1,000 and $1,500: The offense is a Class B felony, which leads to up to seven years in prison and a maximum $4,000 fine on conviction. This is also the punishment for persons with two prior theft convictions or who stole from three separate business establishments within 72 hours in one offense.
  • Theft involving stolen items worth over $1,500: This is a Class A felony, with up to 15 years of prison and as much as $4,000 in fines for anyone convicted. This is also the punishment for persons who steal firearms or use a deadly weapon during the offense.

On top of these penalties, a person could face additional punishments if they attempted to hide the stolen items from the merchant or used tools to help with their shoplifting.

Willful concealment and use of theft equipment

New Hampshire officials can also charge someone of willful concealment if they conceal merchandise on their person while still within the store’s premises. This charge can lead to a misdemeanor on conviction, so a convicted person faces up to a year in prison and a maximum $2,000 fine.

The state also prohibits the use of theft detection shielding devices (such as booster bags) and theft detection device removers (such as specialized magnets to remove anti-theft tags). A conviction for either offense is another misdemeanor.

To summarize, shoplifting is a multifaceted offense. Depending on specific circumstances, a person caught in the act could face up to three or four criminal charges, each with their penalties on conviction. Nobody should underestimate the charges for retail theft, so those accused should carefully prepare their case for court.

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