Generally speaking, those who are charged with shoplifting are people who have been caught with merchandise as they tried to leave the store. Maybe they put something in their pocket and then tried to walk out past the cashier without paying. Maybe they put something in a bag and tried to go out an emergency exit. No matter how it happened specifically, they were caught with the items on their person.
But what if evidence of shoplifting is discovered later? Say that someone puts an item in their pocket, innocently forgets about it, and then goes home. They don’t even realize that they’ve stolen it until days later. Does this mean that they won’t be arrested?
Is there other evidence of the theft?
There are two questions to ask here. The first is simply whether or not the individual had any intent to commit theft in the first place. It may have been an innocent mistake, and theft often has to be proven with intent.
The second question is simply whether there is any evidence at all that the individual even stole the item. Were there security cameras in the store? Is it possible to identify the person without any doubt from that footage? Is it clear that they took something that they intended to obtain without payment?
In other words, it is definitely possible to face charges long after the fact. It could be a month later and you may have forgotten that the whole thing happened, but you could still be arrested. The authorities simply need to have some form of evidence showing what you did, even if you weren’t caught at the moment.
If this does happen to you, then you need to begin looking into your criminal defense options.