What Is Shoplifting?
Shoplifting is the act of taking goods from a store. There are various ways that people may try to conceal what they have stolen. For example, they may put the item in their bag or hide it in their clothes. It is important to note that shoplifting is not the same as burglary.
In order for a person to be charged with burglary, they must break into the store. Shoplifting is the act of simply going into a store and then walking out without paying for the item.
Punishment for Shoplifting
Shoplifting is typically classified as a misdemeanor, but it can be classified as a felony. Many people who are charged with shoplifting do not go to jail. However, they will likely be required to do community service or pay a fine. They may also be put on probation.
If you steal something that is worth more than $1,000, then you may be charged with a felony. People who are charged with felonies for shoplifting can spend up to 39 months in jail. Keep in mind that it is possible for you to get charged with a shoplifting felony if you steal a firearm or explosive device that is worth less than $1,000. Additionally, it is possible for you to get charged with a felony if you are a repeat shoplifting offender.
What Are The Elements of Shoplifting?
There are two elements that have to be present in order for a person to be charged with shoplifting. You must have concealed the item and had no intention of purchasing it. You also have to intend to permanently deprive the store of the item that you took. If the prosecutor is unable to prove both of those things, then you cannot be convicted of shoplifting.
What to Do If You Are Facing a Shoplifting Charge
You need an attorney if you are facing a shoplifting charge. You don’t want to say anything to anyone else because they will try to use anything that you say against you. The attorney will start working on your case immediately if they decide to have you as a client.
How Your Attorney Can Help You
Your attorney’s goal is to help you get your charges dismissed completely. If they are not able to get the charges dismissed, then they may be able to help you get lesser charges. Your attorney will be able to speak on your behalf in court.
Common Shoplifting Defense Strategies
There are several defense strategies that can help you get off. They may opt to do one of the following.
Directly Challenge the Shoplifting Claim
The prosecution has to be able to prove that you intentionally stole the item. There are several ways that this can be challenged. For example, your attorney can argue that you put something in your bag because your hands were full. You intended to pay for the item, but you forgot to take it out of your bag. They can also argue that you simply forgot to pay for the item before you walked out of the store. Furthermore, your attorney can tell the prosecution that you did go back in the store and pay for the item after you realized your mistake.
Challenge the Video Evidence or Witness Testimony
Video evidence and witness testimony are two of the main things that the plaintiff uses in order to prove that shoplifting occurred. However, there are still ways that these two things can be challenged. For example, the attorney can argue that the image on the video is unclear. They can also argue that the witness testimony is unreliable. Witness testimony can be biased.
The Right to Property
The defendant can argue that they had the right to the property that they took. Your attorney may be able to convince the court that you had a legitimate reason to believe that the property you took was yours.
Many people are falsely accused of shoplifting. They are a victim of mistaken identity. If you are a victim of mistaken identity, then your attorney can provide an alibi. They can prove that you were somewhere else during the time that the shoplifting occurred so you could not have possibly stolen anything.
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