Shoplifting is knowingly taking something from a retail establishment without paying for it. Fraudulent returns and tag swapping are also forms of shoplifting. Most stores have security cameras and video surveillance, making apprehending and prosecuting shoplifters easier.
You must take immediate action to protect yourself when you are accused of shoplifting. A Bridgeport shoplifting lawyer could investigate and challenge the evidence to obtain a favorable result in your case. Let the theft attorneys at our firm work to defend your rights.
Range of Shoplifting Offenses
Taking from a retail store is a theft crime under Connecticut General Statute §53(a)-119a. Shoplifting can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending primarily on the value of the property allegedly stolen.
If the property’s value was less than $500, the charge is larceny in the sixth degree, a Class C misdemeanor. A value between $500 and $1000 leads to the Class B misdemeanor charge of fifth-degree larceny. If the merchandise has a value of more than $1000 and less than $2000, the charge is fourth-degree larceny, a Class A misdemeanor. When the value exceeds $2000, an alleged shoplifter faces felony charges.
Working with a Bridgeport shoplifting attorney is critical, even if the charge is only a misdemeanor. A conviction on a Class C misdemeanor will create a criminal record and come with potential jail time, fines, and community service obligations. Additionally, the store will likely seek restitution of the value of the merchandise and its expenses in apprehending the suspect and collecting evidence.
Defenses to Shoplifting Charges in Manchester
A prosecutor must prove a defendant’s intent to steal to get a conviction on a shoplifting charge. Sometimes, the proof of intent is weak or non-existent; a shoplifting lawyer at our firm could exploit that hole in the evidence. Lack of intent is a common defense to shoplifting charges.
A Manchester attorney could also investigate whether the allegedly shoplifted item is worth its assigned value. The severity of a shoplifting charge depends on the value of the items stolen. If the total value of items allegedly stolen is close to the edge of a range for a charge, it could be possible to persuade the prosecutor to bring a lesser charge.
Resolutions to Shoplifting Charges
Prosecutors and judges will sometimes drop shoplifting charges, especially if the accused has no criminal record and can make restitution to the store. A Bridgeport shoplifting attorney could work to get a court to drop the criminal charges or explore alternative sentencing to help a defendant avoid jail time.
First-time offenders might consider applying for the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program (AR). This allows participants to get their charges dropped when they finish the program. A court must approve entry into the program, so defendants should work with legal counsel to prepare the most robust applications. Another diversion program might be better if the individual is not eligible for AR.
Going to trial and forcing the prosecutor to prove the elements of shoplifting is also an option. The defendant might win an acquittal if the prosecutor does not have sufficient evidence to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.
Contact a Bridgeport Attorney if You Face Shoplifting Charges
Failing to take shoplifting charges seriously can be a huge mistake. A conviction on shoplifting charges gives you a criminal record that will follow you and limit your opportunities. You also face hefty fines and potential jail time.
A Bridgeport shoplifting lawyer could explore every defense and legal option for resolving your charges and minimizing the long-term consequences. Contact Ruane Attorneys as soon as possible to discuss your circumstances with our legal team.