(US law) Smart people like to use big words like ‘asportation.’ They don’t do this because they are trying to tell the world they are smart. Nor do they do this to make others feel inferior. They do this because English is the only modern language where the common everyday vernacular is so vague and ambiguous that you need to find uncommon words in the dictionary that mean exactly what you want to say.
One area where absolute clarity is very important is the law. For instance, the word ‘shoplifting’ does not mean, “lifting up a shop.” And, if you are arrested for shoplifting, you will probably want to know exactly what you are being charged with. Hence the modifier, ‘asportation,’ which means specifically that you picked up something in a shop without paying for it and carried it out of the store and put it somewhere it doesn’t belong, like your car. It doesn’t take a very smart person to realize it is just easier to say ‘asportation.’
As long as we are quibbling about English, the word ‘shoplifting’ sounds way too innocuous. (harmless or innocent) The proper term for shoplifting should be ‘larceny,’ which means theft of personal property. That sounds way worse than ‘shoplifting.’ However, we created the word shoplifting to mean stealing from a store while pretending to be a customer. It kind of makes it sound like a game. It isn’t. It’s LARCENY—stealing, theft, robbery, filching, swiping, pinching, and if you want to be really formal, peculation.
When you are arraigned and the judge reads the charge, “Shoplifting by Asportation,” everyone in the courtroom who is familiar with the law will know that you are being accused of going into a store and carrying something out of the store that you didn’t pay for. This is important because there are other types of shoplifting. If you aren’t sure what to do or need more clarification ElliotSavitzLaw.com is a great resource.
Not to give you any ideas, but there is also Shoplifting by Concealing Merchandise, Shoplifting by Switching a Price Tag, or Shoplifting by Switching Containers. In other words—back to the English lesson—larceny! Better get a lawyer. A lawyer is a good idea for multiple types of cases not just shoplifting. Such cases could include possession of illegal substances, failure to register as a sex offender in Massachusetts or fraud.
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