How a Shopping Addiction Can Get You Into Legal Trouble

Once upon a time, shopping addictions were confined to grocery stores, malls, and outlets. With the advent of the internet, and the smartphone, both men and women have found that they can get a “rush” by buying online. People now have the opportunity to buy anything at the tip of their fingers. As shopping habits have increased, the number of high paying jobs to fuel these shopping addictions has decreased, helping result in a rise of shopping addictions.

Shopoholism, much like drug and alcoholism, can be destructive to oneself and those close to them. Where an alcoholic will try and hide their bottles, a shopaholic will likely hide their purchases from others due to guilt. If you are unsure if you are a shopaholic, you may want to look at these signs:

Over Spending – Do you go out shopping or online, and spend more than you have allotted?

  • Keeping the Problem Secret – Do you get home from a spree and bury your purchases? Do you also conceal purchases from others?
  • Isolation – Do you hide from others to keep from being criticized?
  • Circle Spree – Do you feel guilty about your purchases and return them, just to go on another spree?

These can be serious signs that you have a shopping addiction.

In some cases, these urges mixed with a lack of income to fuel the addiction can lead one to break the law to fill their rush. Whether it’s charging more than you have on your card or writing a bad check, or stealing someone else’s card to make your purchases. By stealing someone else’s credit, identity theft felony charges can result in a $10,000 fine and up to 3 years in prison, and a misdemeanor may also lead to a $1,000 maximum fine and up to 1 year in county jail.

If you are caught shoplifting, you could face the following financial charges depending on where you live:

  • You must pay full restitution.
  • A civil penalty, which could be a formula that includes the cost of an item plus an additional fine, consisting of double the value or $500, whichever is higher.
  • Reasonable court costs may also be added to your fine.
  • Depending on the value of the item and your record, you could face anywhere from 3 months to 3 years in jail.

In one situation, a woman went on a killing spree to fill her shopping spree needs. Dana Sue Grey killed three elderly women and went on a shopping spree with their credit cards. One of the victims luckily survived Grey’s attack and was able to alert the authorities. Grey’s little spree landed her in prison for life.


People who steal, usually do so for the emotional “rush”. In other words, they like the feeling when they get away with it. The sensation of adrenaline running through their body. Many people in this situation may be depressed, and not even realize it!

If you or someone you love may suffer from a shopping addiction, you should look into getting some help. Whether you get some self-help, find a counseling group, or check into a rehab center, you do have options. As you way your options, you can start your recovery with some of these simple tips:

  • The first step to any addiction is admitting you have a problem.
  • Remove any check books and credit cards. Studies have shown that people, who carry a limited amount of cash, are less likely to spend more.
  • Find ways to fill your time in a meaningful way outside of shopping.

It is highly recommended that a psychiatric evaluation be done to better understand the degree of addiction to better help you, a friend, or relative repair their lives. If you or someone you know if facing criminal charges, you should also look for a criminal defense lawyer in your area as soon as possible to better understand your legal options.

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