Shoplifting is not as simple as prosecutors like to make it. A person who is accused of shoplifting from a store must be proven to have the intent to steal. Simply because someone walks out the door with unpaid merchandise does not necessarily mean they are stealing.
Not too long ago we defended a woman who was stopped outside of a store with children’s clothes in the bottom of her stroller. Video showed her putting the items in the stroller. At checkout, she put some items on the cashier’s conveyer belt but forgot to retrieve the items in the bottom of her stroller. After walking out of the store, she was stopped in the parking lot, taken inside and accused of shoplifting. Her children watched as their mother was taken away in handcuffs. At trial, she was acquitted.
There is hardly any other crime, much less a misdemeanor, that has so much negative effect on a person’s future. It breaks our heart to see the number of young people who walk through our door, charged with this crime, who haven’t the foggiest idea of the impact.
Fighting Your Theft Charges
Even in cases where the proof is evident, a defense attorney must do all that possible to prevent the negative impact a shoplifting charge will have on a person. We had a case where a young person was accused of shoplifting with a number of her friends. She came to us embarrassed. She professed her guilt and expressed her interest in resolving the case as quickly as possible. The prosecutor offered her a deferred adjudication on a Class B misdemeanor and she wanted the plea. We advised her against it.
Later, after a Motion to Discover allowed us to get a copy of the surveillance video, we saw that her friends had placed most of the items in her purse. We were able to get her a plea bargain that reduced her level of charge and allowed her to expunge her record. Years from now, when she completes college, she will not be burdened with the embarrassment of that youthful indiscretion.
It is imperative that a person accused of this crime not assume a conviction. A theft conviction will wreack havoc on a person’s future employment and educational goals. If you have been arrested for this crime, call Chernoff Law. We don’t charge for an initial consultation.