The Various Ways You Can Be Accused of Shoplifting in MN

When people think of shoplifting, they typically imagine someone shoving something into their purse or backpack to conceal merchandise without paying for it. While this is example of shoplifting, it isn’t the only way to commit the crime.

Shoplifting is a crime that is quite common and committed by people from different backgrounds and socioeconomic levels. In Minnesota, shoplifting is a charge that can mean big trouble regardless of who you are.

What are the ways a person can commit shoplifting in the state? Read on to find out the answer and what consequences exist if found guilty.

Minnesota Shoplifting

Under Minnesota law, shoplifting is a theft crime. However, it involves much more than simply taking something from a store without paying for it. In fact, under the law any way you go about depriving a merchant of the full value of an item can be considered shoplifting.

It is shoplifting in Minnesota if you take any of the following actions:

You Switch Prices

Sometimes, a person can be charged with shoplifting even if they’ve paid something toward the item. This happens when someone takes steps to avoid paying the full price for an item.

Often, this involves something called price switching. It occurs when someone exchanges the price tag on one item for a price tag on another, cheaper item. Technically they are paying for the item, but they are not giving the owner the full value owed, so it’s considered theft.

You Change Packaging

This is similar to price switching, except it involves a switch in the item’s packaging. The more valuable item gets placed in the packaging of a cheaper one to lower the price. Doing this can result in shoplifting charges, even those as severe as felony charges.

You Conceal an Item

This is the classic example of shoplifting, but it’s not the whole story. For example, many assume you must leave the premises to be charged with shoplifting if you hide something in your bag. However, the truth is that concealing an item – even if you don’t leave the store before being caught – is still shoplifting.

You Leave Without Paying

Leaving a store without paying for an item is shoplifting. This crime has a lot of deterrents in anti-theft devices and electronic monitoring. So, you’re more likely to be caught and suffer the consequences.

What Can Happen in Minnesota If You’re Caught Shoplifting?

If you take one of the above actions and get arrested for shoplifting, there are many consequences you can face. Penalties are based on the value of the merchandise you attempted to steal.

Duluth Shoplifting Attorney

For merchandise worth less than $500, you can expect a 90-day jail sentence and a fine of up to $1,000. On the other end of the spectrum, if you get convicted of taking merchandise worth more than $35,000 or you attempted to steal a firearm worth any amount, you can face up to 20 years behind bars and get fined as much as $100,000.


About the Author:

A former Assistant Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial District in Duluth and former staff attorney for the Indian Legal Assistance Program, Brent R. Olson is an experienced trial lawyer who has appeared in every Courthouse in the Sixth Judicial District and taken over three dozen cases to verdict. At LaCourse, Poole & Envall, Mr. Envall focuses on family law, workers’ compensation, and criminal defense. He has a strong belief in restorative justice and helped to develop the Domestic Violence Restorative Circles program.