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VIC Accused of Shoplifting - What to Do Now?

Discussion in 'Criminal Law Forum' started by Gail Sears, 8 October 2016.

  1. Gail Sears

    Gail Sears Active Member

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    Hi,

    A couple of weeks ago, I entered a chemist where I've been going for 8 years. I wanted to buy an item. I put the item into a bag after making sure it was what I wanted, but also to leave my hands free to look at some essential oils in the next aisle. I had been having a panic attack for a while and it was getting worse.

    As I neared the exit, no staff were on either sales desk and my car was only 10 meters out front.

    I needed to get some medication quickly and walked out with the item because I didn't think it would bother them as they knew me or most staff do. I sat into car for about 15 mins and then returned the item to the store as I felt overwhelmed and confused and dizzy.

    13 days later the police came to my door. A meeting was arranged for the next day and when I arrived, I was told I was under arrest and being charged for shoplifting. I told them what happened. I just thought they would believe me.

    Anyhow they seemed particularly angry when I told them I was only in the store 20 seconds and put the item (worth $59.95) on the floor near the display - not the exact point I took it from. They said they'd check if I returned but I'm not sure their camera works like that but it doesn't matter.

    What's going to happen to me? I'm 66, a retired teacher, never ever been in trouble with the law. They seemed really angry when I said I'd returned it but I'd told them that twice already. They also told me I couldn't have a solicitor in with me and I've since found out I could have had but he or she could not run the case.

    That interview was Tuesday and I still don't have a summons, but presume one is on the way. It never entered my mind that the store would charge me or get the police to pursue it. Can you throw any light on what might happen?

    What if they can't find camera evidence of me re-entering? And why did they lie about the solicitor being present?

    It's very vvery stressful. Do they have enough evidence to charge me?

    I know it was stupid now but I really didn't think they would mind.
     
  2. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Returning the item is not a defence to theft. It may mean the police do not charge you and hope the fright of the interview is enough to make you see sense but do not count on it.

    All you can do now is wait and hope for the best.

    If this is a diagnosed medical condition you may have a defence.

    There is no legal obligation in Victoria to have a solicitor present during the interview. The police can allow it, but don't have to let them in with you during the interview. If you request a solicitor though, they should stop the interview until you have spoken with a solicitor.
     
  3. Gail Sears

    Gail Sears Active Member

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    Thank you for replying . Yes, I do have a diagnosed medical condition, that is why I have medication. But I'm very confused as to why the police took 13 days to do anything. I also have no idea how long it takes to serve a summons if they decide to proceed.

    And secondly, do they tell you if they are not! This "sit back and wait" idea is not appealing.
     
  4. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you but unfortunately this is the system we work within.
     
  5. Gail Sears

    Gail Sears Active Member

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    Hi.

    A couple of questions if anyone has the time or can help;

    1. Why is returning an item almost immediately not a defense? I don't get it! Surely it proves you had no intention of keeping it or at least you were returning to pay for it? What am I not getting here?

    There was no dishonest intention at all! I was ill and I left the store and returned after my medication kicked in! Surely I'm not the first person this has happened to ever.

    Would my consistent statement that I returned it have an impact on the police's decision to charge me on summons or do you think they would just dismiss what I say? They said they were going to have a look at the cameras but I just didn't believe them.

    Secondly, do you have any idea why it took 13 days to decide to come visit me after this so-called "theft". A week later, after being arrested, charged and interviewed, I haven't got a summons.

    Thirdly, don't police have to have the goods you are supposed to have? Or is that not necessary either?
     
  6. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    The theft occurred either when you placed the item into bag or when you left the store with the item. Returning the item indicates remorse and helps mitigate the sentence. It is not a defence.

    Not relevant as to what will happen. It could take 5 years or longer so 13 days is just a blip. Just depends on how busy the police are at the time your theft is reported.

    Nope. Just need to prove the items are missing and that you took them. It is possible, though unusual, to be charged with murder without having a body, so I don't think a missing $60 pharmaceutical item is going to be much of a challenge for the law. Also think about items you can steal then eat (eg a chocolate bar).

    Under your theory, if you eat the bar you can't be charged with theft because the item can never be found. Theft does not work that way.
     
  7. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Just to clarify, you removed the medication from the store without paying for it, consumed some of the medication without paying for it, and then returned what remained of the medication to the store?

    Definition of theft in Victoria:
    "A person steals if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it."

    You may not have intended to permanently deprive the store of the rest of the medication, but you certainly intended to permanently deprive the store of the medication that you consumed without first paying for it. Intention *after* the fact is immaterial and, as Rod said, shows remorse to reduce a sentence; it is not, however, a defence that is available under the legislation.
     
  8. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    This is where many people get confused. I believe an intention to permanently deprive can be imputed from actions (ie treating the property as your own) and only needs to be formed at the instance of taking: s73(12) Crimes Act 1958 (Vic). So, taking something with the intention of returning it can still be theft. Which makes senses - defeats the excuse many criminals have when they say 'but I intended to return it'.
     
  9. Gail Sears

    Gail Sears Active Member

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    No
     
  10. Gail Sears

    Gail Sears Active Member

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    Hi

    I'm really staggered by all these legal definitions. It's a little overwhelming!

    To the person who kindly responded and thought that I had taken medication from the store, then took some of the medication outside of the store and returned what was left, that's not what happened. It wouldn't even occur to me to do that!

    I went into the store to look at aromatherapy diffusers, one brand in particular. I had even rung the store in the morning to see if they had it. I went to the store later in the day but I had been having an anxiety/panic attack for a few hours and it was getting worse.

    I have s chronic anxiety problem and have twice passed out with them. The medication I am referring to was prescription medication and was in my car. I put the diffuser I was thinking of buying in my bag to ;ook at the essential oils and have both hands free. However I couldn't concentrate and was getting severely constricting chest pains.

    I got to the store's exits and no staff was on either desk. My car was 20 meters away and in sight. I left the store without asking permission cause I didn't think they would mind and even if they had, I probably would've just pushed my bag and asked them to mind it because I couldn't breathe.

    Anyhow the item was not concealed, it was completely visible. I went quickly to the car, took 2 tablets and waited for about 15 mins, til the chest construction eased. I decided to abandon the whole idea of making a purchase of the diffuser as I was confused and dizzy and thought I'd make a decision later as to whether my daughter had enough presents for her birthday and got out, walked the 20 meters back (still no one on the counters), put the item on the floor next to the display and left.

    I was prob in the store 20 seconds. As weird as it all seems, that's the truth. There was no dishonest intent involved. I wouldn't and have never shoplifted and I'm very angry that after going to the store for 8 years, they have done this and I intend to fight it.

    I realise now it was obviously dumb but the police asked me what happened and that's what I told them! What was I supposed to do, what happened happened! Never having dealt with any of this, I'm obviously very dumb and naive, but do I have a defense?

    I'm a retired teacher and tutor. I need a police check for my teacher's registration.
     

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