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How Can I Defend Against a Shoplifting Charge?

How Can I Defend Against a Shoplifting Charge?

In an arrest, the police want you to believe that they have you “dead to rights.” They try to convince you that your case is open-and-shut. They claim that they have all the evidence they need, and there’s no way to beat your case.

This level of confidence is particularly high in a shoplifting accusation. On the surface, it’s hard to argue against the accusation. The merchandise may have been on you at the time of the arrest, and that’s all the evidence the police need.

The reality is this: You can argue against any criminal accusation in court. Remember, the prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and there is room for doubt in most situations.

Here are some defenses against shoplifting that you can discuss with your lawyer.

There Was No Intent to Steal

A strong criminal accusation always involves intent. Usually, it isn’t enough to convict someone on a technicality. The prosecution must also spend time proving that you committed a crime on purpose.

When you’re shopping, it’s easy to accidentally take something. Imagine a parent trying to wrangle two or three kids in the grocery store. At some point, they put a product in their pocket as they’re running off to catch their toddler. When they check out, they forget about their pocket and walk out.

Shoplifting also implies that you didn’t intend to bring the product back. Once more, imagine someone who has a 12-pack of soda in the bottom of their cart. They forget to bring that item up to the conveyor belt, and they notice the mistake only when they reach their car. This person has every intention to return the merchandise, but before they can, they are charged with shoplifting.

The Item Was Concealed By Accident

Many shoplifting cases are brought after someone conceals merchandise in a store. For example, a person may put an item down their pants, or in their pocket. 

While it may be easy to believe that someone in the grocery store is putting steaks down their pants to shoplift them, there are other situations where someone simply concealing an item may not be enough to prove they had criminal intent. For example, merchandise that accidentally falls into a shopping bag, or is absent-mindedly put inside someone's pockets, are situations where there was concealment but it's still not shoplifting.

While concealment might be part of a shoplifting case, there can be a defense of lack of criminal intent that our lawyers can argue, to help avoid a shoplifting conviction. 

Faulty Self-Checkout Machines

Many area merchants are now using self-checkout machines. This is because they are trying to save money on employees, and have customers ring themselves up. The problem is that when there are honest mistakes or errors by the machine themselves, the stores choose to contact the police and seek to charge their customer with shoplifting. 

We believe that this policy is wrong. No one should face a criminal charge for trying to buy groceries. Police should not go along with merchants, and automatically charge someone with a crime, simply because not every item is correctly scanned. There are so many reasons why this can occur, and most of the time it's not because of an intent to steal. 

Our firm Is here for people accused of shoplifting. If you need help, you can reach us by filling out our online contact form or calling us at (803) 359-3301.


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