Using Self-Checkout at Walmart Could Result in Criminal Charges
Anyone that has walked into a Walmart in recent years has seen the line of self-checkout machines that allow customers to scan their own items and pay for them. Whether the retail giant foresaw it or not, those machines have led to a number of thefts, which have cost the company thousands of dollars.
Now, Walmart is cracking down on people that use self-checkouts to steal from their store, and they have little tolerance for those that engage in the act. This includes those that mistakenly place an item in their bag without ensuring it was properly scanned. The ferocity with which Walmart now pursues charges has led to many innocent people facing serious legal consequences. It is critical that everyone knows how to avoid these charges and when that is not possible, there are defenses available.
The Law on Shoplifting in North Carolina
In North Carolina, most shoplifting charges are known as larceny of property. For the prosecution to secure a conviction, they must show that a person knowingly left a retail store with merchandise they did not pay for. The penalties for larceny of property depends on the value of the property that was stolen.
When the stolen property is less than $1,000, the offense is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. A conviction for this charge can carry a sentence of 1 to 45 days in jail. If a person is convicted of larceny of property that was valued at more than $1,000, the offense is considered a Class H felony and a conviction can carry between four and eight months in jail.
These are harsh penalties for anyone to face, particularly those that simply made an honest mistake at a self-checkout. Even worse though, a conviction will result in a permanent criminal record for the accused. A criminal record will make it much more difficult for the individual to obtain employment, academic opportunities, and housing, all because of a simple mistake.
Defenses to Larceny of Property in North Carolina
The most common defense in larceny of property cases is lack of intent. A lack of intent simply means that you did not intend to steal the items. One way to prove this is when you purchased a number of items, but failed to pay for one of them, particularly when that item was of a very low value. It does not make sense that a person would purchase hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise only to steal something that had a value of only a few dollars.
Of course, the best defense is to never face charges in the first place. In the case of self-checkouts, the best answer may be to allow a human cashier ring through your purchases so if there is a mistake, it is their error and not yours.
Facing Charges? Our North Carolina Theft Lawyer has Your Defense
If you have used a self-checkout and are now facing theft charges, our North Carolina criminal lawyer can help you beat them. At Hauter Law Firm, PC, our experienced attorney knows the defenses available in these cases and will use them to give you the best chance of beating the charges and retaining your freedom. Call us today at 252-226-6878 or contact us online to schedule a free confidential consultation so we can get started on your case.