It’s common for people to use the terms “shoplifting” and “theft” interchangeably. They do have separate definitions, however.

  • Shoplifting is defined as “the willful theft of merchandise from a retail establishment without the knowledge or consent of the seller with the intention of converting those goods for one’s personal use and without having paid the purchase price.”
  • Theft is defined as “the unauthorized taking of property from another with the intent to permanently deprive them of it.”

The definitions of the two make it seem like they would be different charges and have different criminal consequences because of that. Regardless, Minnesota law does not have different laws for shoplifting and theft.

Minnesota Shoplifting & Theft Laws

In Minnesota, there is no shoplifting statute. Instead, the charges for shoplifting fall under the state’s theft statute. According to Minnesota Statute § 609.52, theft includes acts such as:

  • Taking possession of moveable property of another without the other’s consent and with intent to deprive the owner permanently
  • A promise made with the intent of not performing
  • The preparation or filing of a claim for reimbursement, a rate application, or a cost report used to establish a rate or claim for payment for medical care
  • Swindling

According to the statute, property means “all forms of tangible property” and value means “the retail market value at the time of the theft.”

The penalties for both theft and shoplifting range from misdemeanors to felonies and include both monetary fines as well as jail time if applicable. The specific penalties for are based on the property value of the stolen items or merchandise. Penalty measurements begin with property valued at less than $500 and end with a property value of more than $35,000. Minnesota’s laws include civil liability, which means the shoplifter is liable to the owner of the property for its value.

Accused of Shoplifting? Reach Out to an Attorney.

Shoplifting isn’t less than theft—it is simply one form of theft. If you find yourself facing charges for shoplifting, we recommend reaching out to a professional attorney who understands Minnesota’s detailed theft laws.

Navigating your rights after an accusation of shoplifting can be difficult. To learn more about shoplifting and theft defense in Minnesota, send us a message.