Mississippi Shoplifting Law Excerpts

SEC. 97-23-93. Shoplifting; elements of offense; presumptions; evidence; penalties; aggregation of multiple offenses occuring within the same jurisdiction over 30-day period in determining gravity of offense

(1) Any person who shall wilfully and unlawfully take possession of any merchandise owned or held by and offered or displayed for sale by any merchant, store or other mercantile establishment with the intention and purpose of converting such merchandise to his own use without paying the merchant’s stated price therefor shall be guilty of the crime of shoplifting and, upon conviction, shall be punished as is provided in this section.

(2) The requisite intention to convert merchandise without paying the merchant’s stated price for the merchandise is presumed, and shall be prima facie evidence thereof, when such person, alone or in concert with another person, willfully:

(a) Conceals the unpurchased merchandise;

(b) Removes or causes the removal of unpurchased merchandise from a store or other mercantile establishment;

(c) Alters, transfers or removes any price-marking, any other marking which aids in determining value affixed to the unpurchased merchandise, or any tag or device used in electronic surveillance of unpurchased merchandise;

(d) Transfers the unpurchased merchandise from one container to another; or

(e) Causes the cash register or other sales recording device to reflect less than the merchant’s stated price for the unpurchased merchandise.

(3) Evidence of stated price or ownership of merchandise may include, but is not limited to:

(a) The actual merchandise or the container which held the merchandise alleged to have been shoplifted; or

(b) The content of the price tag or marking from such merchandise; or

(c) Properly identified photographs of such merchandise.

(4) Any merchant or his agent or employee may testify at a trial as to the stated price or ownership of merchandise.

(5) A person convicted of shoplifting merchandise for which the merchant’s stated price is less than or equal to Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) shall be punished as follows:

(a) Upon a first shoplifting conviction the defendant shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or punished by imprisonment not to exceed six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(b) Upon a second shoplifting conviction the defendant shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or punished by imprisonment not to exceed six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(6) Upon a third or subsequent shoplifting conviction the defendant shall be guilty of a felony and fined not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or imprisoned for a term not exceeding five (5) years, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(7) A person convicted of shoplifting merchandise for which the merchant’s stated price exceeds Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, punished as provided in Section 97-17-41 for the offense of grand larceny.

(8) In determining the number of prior shoplifting convictions for purposes of imposing punishment under this section, the court shall disregard all such convictions occurring more than seven (7) years prior to the shoplifting offense in question.

(9) For the purpose of determining the gravity of the offense under subsection (7) of this section, the prosecutor may aggregate the value of merchandise shoplifted from three (3) or more separate mercantile establishments within the same legal jurisdiction over a period of thirty (30) or fewer days.

SEC. 97-23-93.1. Shoplifting; use of theft detection device remover prohibited; use of theft detection shielding device prohibited; activation of anti-shoplifting device constitutes probable cause for detention.

(1) As used in this section:

(a) “Theft detection device” means any tag or other device that is used to prevent or detect theft and that is attached to merchandise held for resale by a merchant or to property of a merchant.

(b) “Theft detection device remover” means any tool or device specifically designed or manufactured to be used to remove a theft detection device from merchandise held for resale by a merchant or property of a merchant.

(c) “Theft detection shielding device” means any laminated or coated bag or device designed to shield merchandise held for resale by a merchant or property of a merchant from being detected by an electronic or magnetic theft alarm sensor.

(2)

(a) A person commits unlawful distribution of a theft detection shielding device when he or she knowingly manufactures, sells, offers to sell or distributes any theft detection shielding device.

(b) A person commits unlawful possession of a theft detection shielding device when he or she knowingly possesses any theft detection shielding device with the intent to commit larceny or shoplifting.

(c) A person commits unlawful possession of a theft detection device remover when he or she knowingly possesses any theft detection device remover with the intent to use such tool to remove any theft detection device from any merchandise without the permission of the merchant or person owning or holding said merchandise.

(d) A person commits unlawful use of a theft detection shielding device or a theft detection device remover when he or she uses or attempts to use either device while committing a violation of Section 97-23-93, Mississippi Code of 1972.

(e) Any person convicted of violating this subsection (2) is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be imprisoned for not less than thirty (30) days nor more than one (1) year, and fined not less than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00), nor more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00).

(3)

(a) A person commits unlawful removal of a theft detection device when he or she intentionally removes any theft detection device from merchandise prior to purchase without the permission of the merchant or person owning or holding said merchandise.

(b) Any person convicted of violating this subsection (3) is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), and such fine shall not be suspended, or the person shall be imprisoned not more than sixty (60) days, or both.

(4)

(a) The activation of an anti-shoplifting or inventory control device as a result of a person exiting the establishment or a protected area within the establishment shall constitute reasonable cause for the detention of the person so exiting by the owner or operator of the establishment or by an agent or employee of the owner or operator, provided notice has been posted to advise patrons that such a device is being utilized. Each such detention shall be made only in a reasonable manner and only for a reasonable period of time sufficient for any inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the activation of the device or for the recovery of goods.

(b) The taking into custody and detention by a law enforcement officer, merchant or merchant’s employee, if in compliance with the requirements of this section, does not render such law enforcement officer, merchant or merchant’s employee criminally or civilly liable for false arrest, false imprisonment, unlawful detention, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress or defamation.

 

SEC. 97-23-95. Shoplifting; detention of suspect for questioning without incurring civil liability.

If any person shall commit or attempt to commit the offense of shoplifting, or if any person shall wilfully conceal upon his person or otherwise any unpurchased goods, wares or merchandise held or owned by any store or mercantile establishment, the merchant or any employee thereof or any peace or police officer, acting in good faith and upon probable cause based upon reasonable grounds therefor, may question such person in a reasonable manner for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not such person is guilty of shoplifting as defined herein. Such questioning of a person by a merchant, merchant’s employee or peace or police officer shall not render such merchant, merchant’s employee or peace or police officer civilly liable for slander, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, unlawful detention or otherwise in any case where such merchant, merchant’s employee or peace or police officer acts in good faith and upon reasonable grounds to believe that the person questioned is committing or attempting to commit the crime of shoplifting.

SEC. 97-23-96. Civil remedy for shoplifting violations; written demand prior to commencing civil proceedings; recovery from parents or legal guardians of minors; costs.

(1) Any person who proves by clear and convincing evidence that he has been injured in any fashion by reason of any violation of the provisions of Section 97-23-93, Mississippi Code of 1972, has a cause of action for threefold the actual damages sustained or damages in the amount of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00), whichever is greater, reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs in the trial and in any proceedings in appellate courts. The recovery of stolen goods regardless of condition shall not affect the right to the minimum recovery provided herein.

(2) Before filing an action for damages under this section, the person claiming injury must make a written demand for Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) or threefold the actual damages sustained, whichever is greater, of the person or accused liable for damages under this section. If the accused to whom a written demand is made complies with such demand within thirty (30) days after receipt of the demand, he shall be given a written release from further civil liability for the specific act of shoplifting by the victim making the written demand.

(3) Any victim who has a cause of action under this section may recover the damages allowed under this section from the parents or legal guardian of any unemancipated minor who lives with his parents or legal guardian and who is liable for damages under this section if it is proven that the parents or legal guardian had knowledge of the minor’s intent to violate the provisions of Section 97-23-93 or aided and abetted the minor in such violations. Foster parents shall not be liable for the acts of children placed with them.

Nothing in this section shall in any way be construed as to abrogate, compromise or violate any minor’s right to confidentiality under any other provision of the Mississippi Code of 1972 or otherwise.

(4) In no event shall punitive damages be awarded under this section.

(5) In awarding damages, attorney’s fees, expenses or costs under this section, the court shall not consider the ability of the opposing party to pay such fees and costs. Nothing under this section shall be interpreted as limiting any right to recover damages, attorney’s fees, expenses or costs provided under other provisions of law.

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