Shoplifting is a criminal action that occurs when a person is involved in theft of goods from a retail establishment, usually concealing the item(s) on their person or in a purse, bag, baby stroller, umbrella, etc. The owners of retail stores have theft prevention programs that include security cameras, staff education and merchandise alarms. Store designers concentrate on the layout of the store, as this can make a substantial difference in deterring theft. For example, the placement of shelves is important so as not to obstruct the employees view. Product positioning is important, as the high end items are kept in high traffic areas where they are easily seen. Shoplifting diminishes the store’s revenue and can result in increased pricing of merchandise or even cause the bankruptcy of a store. But what happens when a shopper is wrongfully charged of theft in a retail store? How can the accused refute the charges?
If you are arrested for shoplifting, you can be charged criminally under Florida Statutes 812.014 and 812.0155. The plaintiff also has the option to file a civil lawsuit. Many large retailers have a zero tolerance policy for shoplifting that demands a person be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Penalties for shoplifting can depend on the value of the alleged stolen property and can include fines, restitution, and jail or State prison time. If you have prior shoplifting convictions, the new arrest can be upgraded to a felony and a conviction can include a driver’s license suspension. If convicted, this will permanently impact on a person’s ability to maintain employment, admission to college and obtaining professional licenses. A skilled Defense Attorney is essential to having the charges dismissed or reduced. The Remsen Family Law Firm can review and challenge the evidence and identify if your rights have been violated.
Do the facts support intent to commit the crime? Without intent to commit the crime, a conviction cannot occur. Perhaps you walked away from the store, not aware that an item was on your person. Perhaps your child pulled merchandise into the stroller while you were not looking. Or the store personnel have made an error and are falsely accusing you of fraudulently changing a price tag, when in fact it was done through employee error. These are just a few examples of a defense that can be used, especially if you have no prior shoplifting charges. While store personnel and Security Guards receive training in theft prevention, witness observation is subjective and a false accusation can result in the retail store being sued. Surveillance cameras are reliable but they are unable to capture every angle and area of the retail store.
If you are accused of shoplifting, what should you do? If confronted by store security, attempting to resist or flee can be construed as strong evidence of guilt. Do not sign anything or make any statements to store personnel. Once law enforcement is involved, it is best to invoke your right of counsel, as an innocent explanation could lead to a legal conviction. Don’t let an unfounded allegation ruin your future! It is in your best interest that you seek the advice and counsel of an experienced Defense Lawyer. Call the Remsen Family Law Firm, and let our legal team review the evidence, as we fully understand the legal process and the law as it applies to your case. We will work to get you a successful resolution.