Prospects of the accused in shoplifting case
"My cousin, AG, went to a certain mall in Quezon City sometime in September 2008 to buy a hair product. When he got the item, he did not immediately pay for it. Instead, he placed it in his pocket and decided to look for other items which he might be interested in buying. But the guard at the mall saw him and accused him of shoplifting the hair product. After reports were made, his case for “theft” was formally filed. He was brought to jail but he was released after being able to pay for bail. He has been attending the trial of his case in court but the owner of the mall or any representative thereof has not been attending. I just want to ask what will happen to my cousin. Will he go to jail? We just cannot seem to imagine that what he did is equivalent to the crime of “theft”. We hope that you can enlighten us. Thank you.
It may be difficult on your part to imagine that your cousin is being accused of the crime of theft considering that, as you have mentioned, he merely placed the hair product in his pocket while trying to look for other items which he may be interested in buying. You may consider what he did as an innocent action. However if it is proven that he has violated provisions of our laws, he may be held responsible thereto.In the situation you have presented before us, you mentioned that a security guard of the mall caught sight of your cousin placing the store product inside his pocket. You may think that such demeanor is harmless, but if his actions raise suspicion on the part of the owner of the mall or any of its representatives that a crime has been or is being committed, they can validly investigate the matter. Furthermore, if the circumstances warrant, they may file the appropriate criminal complaint. Under the law, the crime of theft may be committed “by any person who, with intent to gain but without violence, against, or intimidation of persons nor force upon things, shall take the property of another without the latter’s consent. x x x” (Article 308, Revised Penal Code) In order for your cousin to be convicted of said crime, it is necessary for the prosecution to prove all the elements of said crime such as the act of taking a property owned by another, without permission from the latter and with intention to gain therefrom. The private complainant, who may be the owner of the mall or the security guard, may stand as witnesses for the prosecution. Nevertheless, they are not required to be present all throughout the criminal proceedings. Hence, trial may proceed despite their absence, although the court has the authority to compel them to appear during trial.
Relative to your query as to whether or not you cousin AG will go to jail, the answer depends on the present circumstances of his case. You mentioned that he applied for bail and the court granted the same. As a result thereof, he was granted temporary liberty during the pendency of his case. Nonetheless, the grant of his temporary liberty may be revoked if he violated any of the conditions for which it was granted. Aside from that, he may be incarcerated if he is found guilty and is convicted of the crime of theft.We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com or via text message (key in: Times dearpao and send to 2299)."
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"Prospects of the accused in shoplifting case"
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and updated on 15 September 2021