Building a DC Shoplifting Defense

Shoplifting is a serious crime in the district, and therefore may be punished as such. If law enforcement charged you with stealing, you should reach out to a skilled defense attorney immediately. A legal professional could help you when building a DC shoplifting defense to minimize the potential consequences that you may be facing.

Defense Strategies to Shoplifting Charges

There are a few different strategies that shoplifting lawyers use when preparing a defense in DC. First of all, they are going to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the government’s case. They have to see if the person’s alleged conduct meets the elements and if there is evidence to show that they had the intent to take or keep the property. Sometimes that is shown if the person leaves the store, but depending on the facts of the case, it may not be as clear if someone was still in the store but maybe went past the register. Many businesses have displays right by the entrance. Depending on the specific facts, there may be room to argue that the person never actually intended to take the goods or exit the business without paying.

Another element is that there needs to be some testimony at trial from the rightful owner of the property. It does not need to be the rightful owner of the business, but someone authorized as an agent of the business to testify that the person did not have permission to take the property. The government may not be able to meet that element if the proper witness is not present. Those are a couple of the key ways to fight the elements of the charges.

How a Jury May View a Shoplifting Case

How a jury may view a shoplifting case depends on the nature of the alleged victim. If the defendant allegedly stole something from a smaller family-owned business as opposed to a large chain, the emotional loss for these plaintiffs may be considered greater. Therefore, the jury may view this crime as more egregious than if the defendant had stolen something from a multinational corporation, and therefore, they may choose to enforce a stricter punishment.

Put more simply, a jury may be less sympathetic and lenient toward a defendant if they allegedly stole from a family who may be impacted to a greater extent from the theft. A seasoned defense attorney should keep this in mind when putting together a shoplifting defense in DC.

Evidence Used to Create a Defense

A defense for shoplifting would be different from a theft-related argument in that there may be more focus on the witness testimony. For instance, a DC attorney may build a defense for shoplifting by asking:

  • What the loss prevention officer saw
  • If the witness saw the accused take something off of a shelf or rack
  • Did this person continually watch the defendant as they allegedly walked out of the store with a stolen item

An attorney may also review any available surveillance footage to help build their argument. By examining this evidence, they may be able to determine if there is any video proof of the accused taking something from a business and walking away without paying for it. The strength and weakness of the prosecutor’s case may vary between each case and location where the thefts allegedly occurred.

When to Reach Out to an Attorney

As soon as the police charge someone with a crime, they should contact a lawyer. This is because the more time an attorney has to investigate, collect all relevant information, and prepare their defense, the better the chances of a favorable outcome. Additionally, because most attorneys give free initial consultations, there is no cost involved in seeking legal advice initially, even if law enforcement has not officially charged someone at that point.

If someone thinks they may be accused of a crime but has not been officially charged, an attorney could listen to their situation and give advice about how to proceed. In general, the earlier an accused individual consults with a legal professional, the better the outcome.

Speak with a DC Attorney to Discuss Building a Shoplifting Defense

If you have been accused of stealing, you should get in touch with an experienced attorney for help building a DC shoplifting defense. Legal counsel could prepare you for court and work to reduce the penalties you may be facing. To learn how a legal representative could help you in your case, call today.