Washington Shoplifting Law Excerpts

Title 9 RCW: Crimes and punishments

RCW 9A.56.010 – Definitions.

The following definitions are applicable in this chapter unless the context otherwise requires:

(6) “Deprive” in addition to its common meaning means to make unauthorized use or an unauthorized copy of records, information, data, trade secrets, or computer programs;

(7) “Merchandise pallet” means a wood or plastic carrier designed and manufactured as an item on which products can be placed before or during transport to retail outlets, manufacturers, or contractors, and affixed with language stating “property of . . .,” “owned by . . .,” or other markings or words identifying ownership;

(8) “Obtain control over” in addition to its common meaning, means:

(a) In relation to property, to bring about a transfer or purported transfer to the obtainer or another of a legally recognized interest in the property; or

(b) In relation to labor or service, to secure performance thereof for the benefits of the obtainer or another;

(9) “Owner” means a person, other than the actor, who has possession of or any other interest in the property or services involved, and without whose consent the actor has no authority to exert control over the property or services;

(13) “Shopping cart” means a basket mounted on wheels or similar container generally used in a retail establishment by a customer for the purpose of transporting goods of any kind;

(14) “Stolen” means obtained by theft, robbery, or extortion;

(18) Value. (a) “Value” means the market value of the property or services at the time and in the approximate area of the criminal act.

(19) “Wrongfully obtains” or “exerts unauthorized control” means:

(a) To take the property or services of another;

(b) Having any property or services in one’s possession, custody or control as bailee, factor, lessee, pledgee, renter, servant, attorney, agent, employee, trustee, executor, administrator, guardian, or officer of any person, estate, association, or corporation, or as a public officer, or person authorized by agreement or competent authority to take or hold such possession, custody, or control, to secrete, withhold, or appropriate the same to his or her own use or to the use of any person other than the true owner or person entitled thereto; or

(c) Having any property or services in one’s possession, custody, or control as partner, to secrete, withhold, or appropriate the same to his or her use or to the use of any person other than the true owner or person entitled thereto, where the use is unauthorized by the partnership agreement.

 

RCW 9A.56.020 – Theft — Definition, defense.

(1) “Theft” means:

(a) To wrongfully obtain or exert unauthorized control over the property or services of another or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him of such property or services; or

(b) By color or aid of deception to obtain control over the property or services of another or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him of such property or services; or

(c) To appropriate lost or misdelivered property or services of another, or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him of such property or services.

(2) In any prosecution for theft, it shall be a sufficient defense that the property or service was appropriated openly and avowedly under a claim of title made in good faith, even though the claim be untenable.

RCW 4.24.230 – Liability for conversion of goods or merchandise from store or mercantile establishment, leaving restaurant or hotel or motel without paying — Adults, minors — Parents, guardians — Notice.

(1) An adult or emancipated minor who takes possession of any goods, wares, or merchandise displayed or offered for sale by any wholesale or retail store or other mercantile establishment without the consent of the owner or seller, and with the intention of converting such goods, wares, or merchandise to his own use without having paid the purchase price thereof shall be liable in addition to actual damages, for a penalty to the owner or seller in the amount of the retail value thereof not to exceed one thousand dollars, plus an additional penalty of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than two hundred dollars, plus all reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs expended by the owner or seller. A customer who orders a meal in a restaurant or other eating establishment, receives at least a portion thereof, and then leaves without paying, is subject to liability under this section. A person who shall receive any food, money, credit, lodging, or accommodation at any hotel, motel, boarding house, or lodging house, and then leaves without paying the proprietor, manager, or authorized employee thereof, is subject to liability under this section.

(2) The parent or legal guardian having the custody of an unemancipated minor who takes possession of any goods, wares, or merchandise displayed or offered for sale by any wholesale or retail store or other mercantile establishment without the consent of the owner or seller and with the intention of converting such goods, wares, or merchandise to his own use without having paid the purchase price thereof, shall be liable as a penalty to the owner or seller for the retail value of such goods, wares, or merchandise not to exceed five hundred dollars plus an additional penalty of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than two hundred dollars, plus all reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs expended by the owner or seller. The parent or legal guardian having the custody of an unemancipated minor, who orders a meal in a restaurant or other eating establishment, receives at least a portion thereof, and then leaves without paying, is subject to liability under this section. The parent or legal guardian having the custody of an unemancipated minor, who receives any food, money, credit, lodging, or accommodation at any hotel, motel, boarding house, or lodging house, and then leaves without paying the proprietor, manager, or authorized employee thereof, is subject to liability under this section. For the purposes of this subsection, liability shall not be imposed upon any governmental entity, private agency, or foster parent assigned responsibility for the minor child pursuant to court order or action of the department of social and health services.

(3) Judgments and claims arising under this section may be assigned.

(4) A conviction for violation of chapter 9A.56 RCW shall not be a condition precedent to maintenance of a civil action authorized by this section.

(5) An owner or seller demanding payment of a penalty under subsection (1) or (2) of this section 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.”

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 a penalty described in subsection (1) or (2) of this section.

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