Utah Shoplifiting Law Excerpts

Code & Statutes

78-11-14. Shoplifting — Definitions.

As used in this act:

(1) “Minor” means any unmarried person under 18 years of age.

(2) “Merchandise” means any personal property displayed, held or offered for sale by a merchant.

(3) “Merchant” means an owner or operator of premises in which merchandise is displayed, held or offered for sale and includes his employees, servants and agents.

(4) “Premises” means a store or establishment wherein merchandise is displayed, held or offered for sale.

(5) “Wrongful taking of merchandise” means the taking of merchandise that has not been purchased from a merchant’s premises without the permission of the merchant or one of his employees, servants or agents.

76-6-602. Retail theft, acts constituting.

A person commits the offense of retail theft when he knowingly:

(1) Takes possession of, conceals, carries away, transfers or causes to be carried away or transferred, any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale in a retail mercantile establishment with the intention of retaining such merchandise or with the intention of depriving the merchant permanently of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the retail value of such merchandise; or

(2) Alters, transfers, or removes any label, price tag, marking, indicia of value or any other markings which aid in determining value of any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale, in a retail mercantile establishment and attempts to purchase such merchandise personally or in consort with another at less than the retail value with the intention of depriving the merchant of the retail value of such merchandise; or

(3) Transfers any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale in a retail mercantile establishment from the container in or on which such merchandise is displayed to any other container with the intention of depriving the merchant of the retail value of such merchandise; or

(4) Under-rings with the intention of depriving the merchant of the retail value of the merchandise; or

(5) Removes a shopping cart from the premises of a retail mercantile establishment with the intent of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such cart.

78-11-17. Merchant’s right to request customer to hold merchandise in full view.

Any merchant may request any individual on his premises to place or keep in full view any merchandise such individual may have removed, or which the merchant has reason to believe he may have removed, from its place of display or elsewhere, whether for examination, purchase or for any other reasonable purpose. No merchant shall be criminally or civilly liable on account of having made such a request.

78-11-15. Civil liability of adult for shoplifting — Damages.

An adult who wrongfully takes merchandise by any means, including but not limited to, concealment or attempted concealment in any manner, either on or off the premises of the merchant, with a purpose to deprive a merchant of merchandise or to avoid payment for merchandise, or both, is liable in a civil action, in addition to actual damages, for a penalty to the merchant in the amount of the retail price of the merchandise not to exceed $1,000, plus an additional penalty as determined by the court of not less than $100 nor more than $500, plus court costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

77-7-12. Detaining persons suspected of shoplifting or library theft — Persons authorized.

(1) A peace officer, merchant, or merchant’s employee, servant, or agent who has reasonable grounds to believe that goods held or displayed for sale by the merchant have been taken by a person with intent to steal may, for the purpose of investigating the unlawful act and attempting to effect a recovery of the goods, detain the person in a reasonable manner for a reasonable length of time.

76-6-603. Detention of suspected violator by merchant — Purposes.

Any merchant who has probable cause to believe that a person has committed retail theft may detain such person, on or off the premises of a retail mercantile establishment, in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable length of time for all or any of the following purposes:

(1) To make reasonable inquiry as to whether such person has in his possession unpurchased merchandise and to make reasonable investigation of the ownership of such merchandise;

(2) To request identification;

(3) To verify such identification;

(4) To make a reasonable request of such person to place or keep in full view any merchandise such individual may have removed, or which the merchant has reason to believe he may have removed, from its place of display or elsewhere, whether for examination, purchase or for any other reasonable purpose;

(5) To inform a peace officer of the detention of the person and surrender that person to the custody of a peace officer;

(6) In the case of a minor, to inform a peace officer, the parents, guardian or other private person interested in the welfare of that minor immediately, if possible, of this detention and to surrender custody of such minor to such person.

A merchant may make a detention as permitted herein off the premises of a retail mercantile establishment only if such detention is pursuant to an immediate pursuit of such person.

77-7-14. Person causing detention or arrest of person suspected of shoplifting or library theft — Civil and criminal immunity.

(1) A peace officer, merchant, or merchant’s employee, servant, or agent who causes the detention of a person as provided in Section 77-7-12, or who causes the arrest of a person for theft of goods held or displayed for sale, is not criminally or civilly liable where he has reasonable and probable cause to believe the person detained or arrested committed a theft of goods held or displayed for sale.

78-11-16. Joint liability of minor and parent or guardian for minor’s shoplifting — Exception.

A minor and the parents or legal guardian having legal custody of such minor, as the case may be, who wrongfully takes merchandise by any means, including but not limited to, concealment or attempted concealment in any manner, either on or off the premises of the merchant, with a purpose to deprive a merchant of merchandise or to avoid payment for the merchandise, or both, are jointly and severally liable in a civil action, in addition to actual damages, for a penalty to the merchant in the amount of the retail price of the merchandise not to exceed $500 plus an additional penalty as determined by the court of not less than $50 nor more than $500, plus court costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees. No parent or guardian is liable for damages under this section if he or she made a reasonable effort to restrain the wrongful taking and did not fail to report it to the merchant involved or to the law enforcement agency having primary jurisdiction after he or she knew of the minor’s unlawful act. No report is required under this section from a parent or guardian if the minor was arrested or apprehended by a peace officer or by anyone acting on behalf of the merchant involved.

78-11-19. Criminal conviction for shoplifting not a prerequisite for civil action under chapter — Written notice required — Award of penalty not subject to requirement of compensatory or general damages.

(1) A conviction in a criminal action of shoplifting is not a condition precedent to a civil action authorized under Section 78-11-15 or 78-11-16.

(2)

(a) A merchant demanding payment of a penalty under Section 78-11-15 or 78-11-16 shall give written notice to the person or persons from whom the penalty is sought. The notice shall state:

“IMPORTANT NOTICE: The payment of any penalty demanded of you does not prevent criminal prosecution under a related criminal provision.”

(b) This notice shall be boldly and conspicuously displayed, in at least the same size type as is used in the demand, and shall be sent with the demand for payment of the penalty described in Section 78-11-15 or 78-11-16.

(3) The provision of Section 78-18-1 requiring that compensatory or general damages be awarded in order to award punitive damages does not prohibit an award of a penalty under Section 78-11-15 or 78-11-16 whether or not restitution has been paid to the merchant either prior to or as part of a civil action under Section 78-11-15 or 78-11-16.

76-6-604. Defense to action by person detained.

In any action for false arrest, false imprisonment, unlawful detention, defamation of character, assault, trespass, or invasion of civil rights brought by any person detained by the merchant, it shall be a defense to such action that the merchant detaining such person had probable cause to believe that the person had committed retail theft and that the merchant acted reasonably under all circumstances.

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