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Do You Need a Lawyer for a Shoplifting Charge?
4 years ago by Justin M. Schiks
Many people believe that shoplifting is a minor matter. Someone think that taking one or two items from a large corporate store will go unnoticed but, all too often, that person ends up in handcuffs and facing serious criminal charges. Shoplifting is a specific type of theft, and the law takes theft offenses very seriously. Do not be surprised if the prosecution aggressively pursues a shoplifting conviction and a harsh sentence.
Any type of criminal charge is a big deal – even if it does not seem like a dangerous crime. If you or your child is accused of shoplifting, you should immediately consult with an experienced Woodbury criminal defense attorney.
How Shoplifting Charges Arise
There are many reasons why people might shoplift, including teenage rebellion, poverty, or attempting to resell goods to pay for drug addiction. No matter what the reason may be, shoplifting charges can follow. Shoplifting takes different forms in Minnesota, such as:
- Taking items without paying
- Switching price tags or packaging
- Concealing items
- Schemes with cashiers to avoid full payment
If you intentionally obtain items from a retail establishment without paying the full price, you could be accused of shoplifting. The store has the right to detain you if they saw you taking the items, and they may report the incident to the police.
A shoplifting charge can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending largely on what was taken:
- Misdemeanor = Shoplifting items valued at less than $500
- Gross misdemeanor = Shoplifting items valued at $500 to $1,000
- Felony = Items are worth more than $1,000, or you have another theft conviction within the past five years
Jail is a possibility for any level of shoplifting conviction, as even misdemeanor shoplifting can mean up to 90 days behind bars. You can also face hefty fines and civil liability to the retailer.
Defending Against Your Charges
Because the consequences of a conviction can be serious, which is why it is important to seek the right criminal defense representation. A skilled lawyer can identify how you can defend against your charges and prevent a conviction on your record whenever possible.
One key defense against shoplifting charges is challenging intent. In order to commit the offense, you must do so intentionally and purposely. If you accidentally forgot to pay for something, you should not be convicted of a crime. Some defenses include advanced age, dementia and other mental disorders, taking certain medications, illness, or even fatigue that caused someone to mistakenly take items. There are additional defenses in specific situations, including coercion by others, mistaken identity, insufficient evidence, and more.
Your defense attorney might also challenge the claimed value of the stolen items to have charges reduced, or may see if you qualify for a diversion program or other alternative sentencing.
Learn How a Woodbury Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
A Woodbury criminal defense attorney from JS Defense, PA. can help with shoplifting charges in many ways. Call (651) 968-9652 or request a free consultation online for assistance with your criminal case today.