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In the big scheme of things regarding severe crimes, shoplifting falls far down on the list. However, that does not mean store security personnel, police officers, and prosecutors will not take this crime seriously and attempt to punish you to the fullest extent of the law. While shoplifters are responsible for millions of dollars in stolen merchandise that ultimately leads to consumers paying higher prices, this does not mean that all persons accused of shoplifting are guilty of the crime. In fact, today’s world actually makes it much easier to be accused of shoplifting when you actually never intended to do anything wrong. If you find yourself being charged with shoplifting but know you are innocent, do everything possible to hire an attorney who will fight for your legal rights as well as your reputation. Contrary to what many people believe, there are many viable defenses when charged with shoplifting.
In many of these situations where shoplifting is alleged to have occurred, an experienced attorney can discover it was in fact a cashier error that led to the incident taking place. Since many retailers fail to properly train their employees in all facets of their jobs, it is quite easy for a cashier to make a mistake, such as thinking they rang up an item when they did not. Along with this, more and more stores are now using self-checkouts, creating even more opportunities for errors to occur. By examining evidence, reviewing security footage, and interviewing employees, your attorney can often prove you were in no way guilty of shoplifting.
Even in situations where a cashier is fully capable of performing their job, an equipment error can sometimes make it appear as if a person is attempting to shoplift items. Due to today’s cash registers being highly computerized and relying on numerous types of software, there can be instances where the register or other technical components of the system may malfunction. As a result, neither the cashier nor you as the customer may be aware an item was not properly accounted for by the system. Therefore, once you walk out the front door with the item, security personnel are immediately pursuing you and charging you with shoplifting. If facing this dilemma, work with an attorney who can use expert witnesses to examine these systems and give detailed testimony as to what malfunctions transpired.
No Prior Criminal History
If you accidentally walk out of a store with an item that was not properly paid for at a register, this does not mean you will automatically be convicted of shoplifting. If you have no prior criminal history of shoplifting or any other offenses, your attorney can argue it makes no sense to assume you suddenly decided to embark on a life of crime. In many situations, it can be determined that the store itself was at fault, resulting in charges against you being dismissed.
Children Hiding Items
For parents who have children with them in a store, they know all too well how many times during the shopping trip their kids are grabbing at one item or another. While most of the time parents will catch this and put the item back on the shelf, there may be times when they are distracted just long enough for a child to hide an item inside their clothing or perhaps in their parent’s pocketbook. Should this happen, it will appear as if you are trying to shoplift. In addition, authorities may also try to allege you were using your children as part of your scheme, resulting in additional charges of child endangerment or threats of having your children taken away from you. If this happens, the situation can quickly escalate out of control, putting you and your children in a precarious legal position. Rather than let this happen, hire an attorney as quickly as possible to help with your defense. By doing so, you will likely be able to end a situation well before additional developments occur.
While not very common, there are some people who suffer from kleptomania, meaning they have a compulsion to steal items from homes and businesses. As more emphasis is now being placed on addressing problems of mental health within the criminal justice system, your attorney may be able to use this to your advantage. Should you be suffering from various stressful events in your life such as the death of a loved one, recent job loss, or other situation, your attorney can argue you shoplifted the item due to being under extreme mental duress. If you have no prior history of shoplifting or other crimes and have expert witnesses as well as family and friends who can testify on your behalf, chances are your attorney can get the charges reduced or dismissed.