Shoplifting is a crime of “intent.” What that means is that a prosecutor must show that you actually intended to commit the crime of shoplifting.
Over the years, we’ve defending shoplifting charges involving persons who didn’t intend to commit a crime. This includes persons who placed merchandise in their pockets or a purse because their hands were full, persons whose small children picked up other items and put the merchandise into a pocket or purse, persons who walked out of the store with items under a grocery cart or shopping cart, and other similar scenarios. In these cases, our clients had every intention of paying for the merchandise but because they were in a rush or their hands were full, they overlooked all of the items they had during check out. In one scenario, the store clerk actually forgot to ring up all of the merchandise in a client’s cart, yet the client was accused of shoplifting.
Even in scenarios where you’ve simply made a mistake, you may still be charged with shoplifting. Under South Carolina law, “intent” may be inferred when a person willfully (purposefully) conceals merchandise in or outside of the store. If the goods are concealed on your person or in your personal belongings such as your pockets or a handbag, then it may be inferred that you willfully concealed the merchandise with the intent of not paying for the merchandise.