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There is only a month left before Christmas time is here once again. This means that stores and businesses will soon be jam-packed with shoppers purchasing food, toys, and gifts they need to make the season as merry and bright as possible — but also as quickly as possible.

As a result, many of these shoppers are bound to use the ever-growing number of self-checkout lanes available. A recent survey suggested that up to eight out of every ten shoppers believe the self-checkout line is faster than a traditional lane staffed by a human cashier. That same survey found that over 60 percent of shoppers who use self-checkout choose to do so because of its speed.

How You Can Be Charged With Larceny at the Self-Checkout

In your haste to speed through the checkout lane, you may inadvertently forget to scan an item. Your desire to get in and out of the store with minimal delay may lead to a larceny charge for trying to walk out without paying for it. 

Your act of failing to pay for an item can give a police officer or loss prevention officer reason to believe you are trying to commit self-checkout theft. However, before you can be found guilty of that crime, the prosecutor handling your case must show that you did not pay for the item and took the item with the clear intent of stealing it. In other words, your reason behind failing to pay matters.

A Guilty Act Plus a Guilty Mindset Equals Larceny

You cannot be convicted of most crimes unless the prosecution shows that you committed a criminal act and did so with a guilty mindset. Such requirements protect individuals from being convicted for committing innocent mistakes, such as forgetting to pay for an item at a self-checkout.

In South Carolina, the larceny statute requires proof that you took the item while clearly intending to “permanently deprive” the store of the property. You wanted to take the item away from the store without paying and did not want to give it back when you were caught.

Defending Against Self-Checkout Theft Charges

Because prosecutors cannot get into your mind, they routinely try to point to circumstances that suggest you intend to commit self-checkout theft. These circumstances might include the following:

  • The value of the item compared to others for which you paid
  • Whether the item was located hidden in your cart or under some other item
  • Whether you checked your receipt before leaving the self-checkout station
  • Your response when you were confronted about stealing an item
  • Your criminal record and any prior convictions for larceny

If you are searching for how to beat a self-checkout theft charge, one of the easiest ways to do so is to attack the prosecution’s evidence of your intent. Your attorney can sow reasonable doubt and obtain an acquittal by explaining the circumstances of your incident and suggesting other reasonable explanations for any questionable behavior you engaged in.

When to Call a South Carolina Attorney Over a Self-Checkout Theft Charge

Never wait too long after being charged with self-checkout theft to connect with a Spartansburg criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of Mo Abusaft. With an experienced attorney on your side, you won’t need to wonder how to beat a self-checkout theft charge, as you could even have your retail larceny charge dismissed before trial.

Leaving the matter to a judge or jury or trusting that you can explain the matter away in court leaves you facing legal jeopardy for far too long. Trust that when you turn to the Law Office of Mo Abusaft, we will work quickly to get your self-checkout theft charge dismissed or resolved as soon as possible.