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Is It Theft If You Forget To Pay For An Item At Self-Checkout?


Self-checkout lines at supermarkets and other retail stores were a sign of next generation efficiency just a few years ago, but during the pandemic, they became ubiquitous.  In order to protect their customers and employees and to continue operating and avoid restrictions on commerce, stores encouraged customers to pay for items in ways that did not require them to come into close contact with other people.  Scanning items, paying by cash or card at the scanning kiosk, and then going on your way is easy, almost too easy.  Scanning, paying for, and bagging your own items leaves you vulnerable to distractions, especially if you are stressed about how much everything costs or trying to keep track of restless children.  If you accidentally forget to pay for an item, you can get charged with theft while you are leaving the store.  What was supposed to be an uneventful shopping trip can end up with you being arrested.  If this has happened to you, contact a West Palm Beach shoplifting lawyer.

What to Do If You Accidentally Remove Merchandise From the Store Without Paying for It

Most self-checkout lines at retail stores have plenty of safeguards in place to prevent theft, as well as to prevent accidental removal of items by customers.  Security cameras monitor every checkout lane, and there is usually at least one employee assigned to the self-checkout area to assist customers with items that are difficult to scan and to check customers’ IDs for alcohol purchases.  In some stores, an employee compares customers’ receipts to the items in their carts before they leave the store.

If you discover, after you exit the checkout lane, or even after you leave the store, that you have not paid for some of your items, the best thing to do is to bring your items and your receipt back to the customer service desk and explain what happened.  The cashier should let you pay for the items or leave them at the store without any further trouble.

At some stores, though, cashiers and security guards assume the worst when customers forget to pay for items.  If this happens, and if you get arrested, assume that the store employees’ and officers’ efforts to provoke your anger and fear are intentional.  You should say as little as possible and remember that a criminal defense lawyer can help you get the charges dropped.  You might even text a relative from the store and ask them to contact a lawyer for you.  Likewise, if you receive a notice later about a previous accidental shoplifting incident, you should contact a lawyer.

Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

A Palm Beach County criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing charges for shoplifting after you accidentally or unknowingly removed an item from a retail store without paying for it.  Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach Florida to discuss your case. Attorney William Wallshein has more than 38 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County.



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