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Theft / Shoplifting Charges

In New Hampshire, a person accused of shoplifting may be charged with “Willful Concealment” or various forms of “Theft”. Willful Concealment is the act of concealing store merchandise while still upon the premises of the store with the intent to take the items from the merchant. Willful Concealment is a type of theft and the police or prosecutor may simply choose to charge them as Theft or Attempted Theft.

Under the Willful Concealment law, it is also theft if the person:

  1. Removes merchandise from the premises of a merchant; or
  2. Alters, transfers, or removes any price marking affixed to goods or merchandise; or
  3. Causes the register or other scanner to reflect less than the merchant's stated or advertised price for the merchandise; or
  4. Transfers goods or merchandise from the original container into another container, and does any of those things (a-d) with the intent to take merchandise from the merchant.

It is important to note that maximum penalties are rarely imposed for any offense and only under some of the more extreme circumstances. However, the following are the possible penalties for Theft.

  1. Theft is a class A felony [maximum 15 years prison and $4,000.00 fine] if:
    1. The value of the property or services exceeds $1,500, or
    2. The property stolen is a firearm, or
    3. The person is armed with a deadly weapon at the time of the theft. If the person is armed with a firearm, he or she may be sentenced [to a maximum of 20 years in prison].
  2. Theft [is] a class B felony [maximum 7 years and $4,000.00 fine]:
    1. If the value of the [theft] is [between] $1,001 and $1,500, or
    2. If the actor has been convicted of theft of property or services, as a felony or class A misdemeanor twice before, or
    3. If, by extortion, the person threaten[ed] to cause physical harm to the victim or to any other person or to property, or if the person threatened physical confinement or restraint of the victim.
    4. If the property or services stolen are from 3 separate business establishments within 3 days, or
    5. If the property is stolen with intent to resell or distribute, or
    6. If stolen property received consists of merchandise in quantities that would not normally be for personal use or consumption, or
    7. If the actor has twice before been convicted of [a shoplifting related offense] and the present and prior convictions were based on offenses committed within a 36-month period.
  3. Theft [is] a misdemeanor [maximum 1 year in jail and $2,000.00 fine] if the value of the [theft is] $1,000 [or less]. Willful Concealment is a misdemeanor.

Other sentencing and restitution conditions may apply to a theft conviction of any level.

Aside from the formal sentencing, a criminal theft charge can be devastating to career prospects in a variety of fields and can have far-reaching consequences in other areas of your life. An experienced attorney can help you minimize the impact of these charges on your life. Attorney Shawn P. Sweeney offers the counsel you need to navigate the law, negotiate with police and prosecutors, comb through the evidence against you with an experienced eye, defend your rights, and get your best outcome.

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