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One of my friends likes to eat produce, cherries grapes, etc before buying.I told him he can get arrested for theft, am i right?

Redlands, CA |

he protests and says its only 1 grape, or only 1 cherry, and hes never been arrested for this before, but dont most grocery stores and chains like walmart have policies against this? also if i am shopping with him and he does this can i get in trouble too?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Technically the store could give him the boot for sampling merchandise but I doubt they'd bother over a cherry. If you look around the store you will doubtless see street people eating lunch here and there. Most stores don't prosecute that.

  2. Most stores will allow the tasting of one grape or cherry.
    Robert Driessen

    Mr. Driessen is a former Deputy DA in Orange County with over 8 years of criminal law experience. Nothing stated on this site shall in anyway be construed as legal advice, or as creating any attorney client relationship. If you would like to hire Mr. Driessen, feel free to contact him at

  3. Sounds like a moral failing, but not one likely to see prosecution.

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  4. I concur with all of the answers provided, but I write to add some additional considerations:

    If the conduct you describe is regular and frequent and the store begins to "recognize" the grazing patron, a manager will speak to the patron and instruct that the grazing must stop. If it persists after that, many groceries will call police for purposes of "upping" the pressure. In those circumstances, police will run the crim record of the patron and, if there is anything there of interest or significance, that may lead to difficulties such as a prob violation beef.

    Retailers are not interested in prosecuting these kinds of activities, but there is a limit to the tolerance and when the limit is passed, the police and prosecutor will assist in making whatever kind of legal problem they can for the offender -- short of going to a jury trial on allegations of theft over grazing. In some jurisdictions, a charge will be brought and then dismissed with an agreed-upon "stay-away" order.

    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

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