Shoplifting in Maryland – Past All Points of Purchase

“Past All Points of Purchase” – A Defense to a Theft/Shoplifting Charge in Maryland
One potential defense to shoplifting in Maryland is that the accused has not gone “past all points of purchase” in the store when stopped by the store’s loss prevention officer. A point of purchase is cashier, cash register, checkout, or some other location where a shopper exchanges payment for goods. Most stores have their checkout areas located close to the exit doors, making it apparent that the last thing the shopper does before leaving the store is pay for their goods. Most stores only have one checkout area, but others, including many department stores, may have multiple checkout areas on separate floors at varied locations.

The reason that this could be a defense depends on the layout of the store and where the accused shopper is located in the store. For instance, if a store has just one checkout point located inside a store, and the shopper has left and gone outside the store, it is clear that shopper has gone past all points of purchase. If that shopper had knowingly taken merchandise from the store without paying for it, that would be theft by shoplifting. However, say you have a store with multiple floors and checkouts, and a shopper takes some merchandise from one floor and moves to a different floor and area. That shopper hasn’t left the entire store yet but has taken merchandise from one area to another. Since that shopper has not gone past all the points of purchase, if stopped at that point by law enforcement there is a plausible defense that there is no shoplifting.

Unfortunately there are some overzealous and overeager loss prevention officers (the hired security that work for the store) out there working at some of these big stores. They may see a shopper pick up some merchandise–maybe even put that merchandise in a bag or purse–and wander around the store to a different area without leaving the store or going past all potential store checkout areas. The loss prevention officer may decide to jump the gun and detain the shopper because of his suspicion. If this happens, there could be a very good defense to the case–a defense that the shopper did not go past all points of purchase.

If you, a friend or loved one are facing theft or shoplifting accusations, feel free to contact the Law Offices of Christopher Peretti at 301-875-3472 for a free consultation. It is important to speak with a lawyer who understands all potential defenses to a shoplifting case and can fight to protect your rights and your record.

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