Retailers in Queensland suffer considerable financial losses every year due to shoplifting, so the police treat the offence seriously. Of course, shoplifting cases vary in severity, and the authorities refer to minor theft as a regulatory offence. Learn more about the definition of a regulatory offence, and find out what penalties could apply if a court finds you guilty.
The value of stolen goods is essential
Regulatory offences occur where the value of the goods is not particularly significant. In Queensland, the authorities define this type of offence as any matter that involves the theft of goods worth $150 or less. Where the regulatory offence refers to unauthorised damage to property, the financial threshold increases to $250.
There are different types of regulatory offence
Technically, shoplifting occurs when you remove goods from a store without attempting to pay for them, but the authorities include this type of offence in a broader definition that they often refer to as unauthorised dealing with shop goods. This may include the removal of goods without paying, but can also include the following:
- Eating or drinking something in a shop without paying for it.
- Swapping price tags to deliberately pay a lower price.
- Crossing out or interfering with prices.
In modern supermarkets with self-checkout areas, any attempt to take your goods without paying the normal price would also fall under this definition, subject to the $150 value limit.
The offence does not carry a prison sentence
In Queensland, the Magistrates Court deals with regulatory offences. With these offences, the magistrate cannot give you a prison sentence. If found guilty, you will normally face a fine of six penalty points. This would normally cost you around $680. If the value of goods exceeded $150, the police will normally charge you with stealing, which means you could face stiffer penalties, including a prison sentence.
The offence does not normally lead to a criminal record
Regulatory offences don't normally lead to a criminal record. Although a magistrate will convict you of the offence (and you will have to pay the fine), you don't normally end up with a formal criminal record. As such, if you want to apply for a job or a work permit, you can tell the application authority that you don't have a criminal record.
However, you must carefully check the wording of the question. For example, if the application asks if you have any convictions, you would have to answer yes because a regulatory offence still results in a conviction if a court finds you guilty.
The Queensland authorities treat minor shoplifting cases as regulatory offences. Talk to a solicitor for more information and advice about a possible conviction.