Potential Defense Strategies for a Shoplifting Charge
Shoplifting, the act of stealing from a retailer, is also known as retail theft. Like many other offenses, shoplifting is a serious criminal charge. Although the penalties for a shoplifting conviction are often not as steep as they are for other theft convictions, it is always worth your time to fight a shoplifting charge, because being convicted of shoplifting will subject you to certain civil and criminal penalties. In addition, a conviction on your criminal record can impact the potential penalties for any future charges that you may face.
If you are facing a shoplifting charge, you should start working on your legal defense strategy with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The defense strategy you create will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Below are a few potential strategies you may be able to use when you are facing a shoplifting charge:
It Was an Innocent Mistake
People make mistakes. You might accidentally walk out of a store without paying for an item because you were distracted or because the item was nestled among other items you paid for. Your defense strategy could involve demonstrating that you did not intentionally take an item without paying for it, or at least showing that there is not enough evidence to show you intentionally stole the item.
The Item Was Mislabeled
Changing an item’s label to make it ring up for less than it is actually worth is a form of retail theft. Sometimes, stores’ systems list items’ prices incorrectly, or old labels get left on items. Your defense strategy could involve proving that you did not intentionally change the item’s price, but a store error resulted in its incorrect pricing.
The Cashier, Not You, Made an Error
Intentionally under-ringing an item or failing to ring it up at the cash register is a form of retail theft. Sometimes, it is not the buyer’s fault, but the cashier’s fault. A busy cashier might overlook an item while checking customers out, or he or she might intentionally pass certain items on without scanning them in an attempt to hurt the retailer or to give the customer preferential treatment. If you are facing this type of situation, demonstrating that you were not involved in the cashier’s decision to under-ring the item can be key to your defense.
Your Rights Were Violated in Some Way
Another potential defense strategy is demonstrating that you suffered a civil rights violation, such as being subjected to an illegal search and seizure, that can lead to evidence being inadmissible in court. Remember that when you are detained by a store owner or employee after allegedly stealing from the store, you have the same rights that you have when you are being detained by law enforcement. These include the right to refuse to consent to a search without a warrant and the right to remain silent during questioning.
Work With an Experienced Geneva Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you are facing a shoplifting charge, it is always in your best interests to start working on your legal defense strategy with an experienced Naperville shoplifting defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact our team at Donahue & Sowa by calling 630-505-5200 today to schedule your free initial legal consultation in our office.