Shoplifting is not only considered a hideous crime, but is also a stain on your reputation. A person who is caught or convicted for shoplifting may never be able to gain back their dignity in the community because people don’t view them as honest or ethical anymore.
Research says that shoplifting causes a financial hit to stores! So much so that stores are said to be going in greater loss by shoplifting than by employee theft. Let’s see what shoplifting is and how to get shoplifting charges dropped.
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Shoplifting is when someone steals something from a shop or store pretending to be a customer. Trying to get away without paying for items is very common- there are so many people caught on cameras who took items from the store, hid them somewhere in their clothes and ran away.
If you’re suspected of shoplifting, the store owner or security guard have the right to chase you down the street or inform the police. You will then be pressed with a shoplifting charge.
According to Alabama Retail, these are the shoplifting laws defined in the legal books.
- 15-10-14. Detention and arrest of persons suspected of larceny of goods held for sale.
(a) A peace officer, a merchant or a merchant’s employee who has probable cause for believing that goods held for sale by the merchant have been unlawfully taken by a person (and that he can recover them by taking the person into custody) may, for the purpose of attempting to effect such recovery, take the person into custody and detain him in a reasonable manner for a reasonable length of time. Such taking into custody and detention by a peace officer, merchant or merchant’s employee shall not render such peace officer, merchant or merchant’s employee criminally or civilly liable for false arrest, false imprisonment or unlawful detention.
(b) Any peace officer may arrest without warrant any person he has probable cause for believing has committed larceny in retail or wholesale establishments.
(c) A merchant or a merchant’s employee who causes such arrest as provided for in subsection (a) of this section of a person for larceny of goods held for sale shall not be criminally or civilly liable for false arrest or false imprisonment where the merchant or merchant’s employee has probable cause for believing that the person arrested committed larceny of goods held for sale.
Shoplifting Charges after Leaving Store
Often shoplifters are caught immediately; while trying to steal items or while running out of the store, they are either chased by the store manager or caught by the police.
There are other case scenarios where a person ‘succeeds’ in picking up items and leaving the store. But they might not be as safe as they would think. It is very easy to identify shoplifting, and if the suspect is caught doing so on camera, they could be easily located from the police’s database.
If your identity is shown on the footage, you could be located and arrested for doing such a thing- and if you’re a local in the community, the word could get out and be an embarrassing situation for you and your family.
How to get Shoplifting Charges dropped?
If you’ve been accused or rightfully caught for shoplifting, whatever your reasons may be, you will be charged with the crime and your reputation will be tainted in the community. You should be thinking of ways trying to get those charges dropped, and contacting a defense attorney is your best bet.
The first strategy that the attorney may suggest to you is contacting the merchant and asking for the price of the items you stole. If the merchant agrees to push this charge away if you would pay for the items, they could convince the state to drop the charges. Please note that the merchant is in no authority to drop the charges because it is you against the state. But the merchant can appeal to the state to let you go.
If the State does not want to drop the case, but sees your crime as relatively insignificant, you may be offered the chance to participate in a pretrial diversion program. In some areas this is also called a deferred prosecution. A pretrial diversion program is a type of plea bargain. In this program, you usually complete community service hours and pay the court a fine. When you do all of this, the state will consider dropping the charges against you.
Even if you succeed in getting the charges dropped, it will permanently show up on your criminal record, and it may make it harder for you to land jobs and work in the community.
Shoplifting Charges First Offense
There is no minimum fine or minimum jail, however, the District Attorney’s plea bargain and the judge, if he or she is sentencing someone, can order up to a $1,000 fine, plus penalties and assessments, and up to six months in jail.
In most cases, especially first-time shoplifting cases, the client will not spend a day in jail and the fine is anywhere from $150, plus penalties and assessments, to $250, plus penalties and assessments.
It is important to note that the charges against you greatly depend on what sort of item you stole and what was your motive behind it. The bargain will be much different for a person who stole bread to feed his family than a person who stole a gold chain. Also, if you involved a minor in the crime or the use of a weapon while doing so.
Shoplifting may seem like a very small insignificant crime, but the reputation that gets tainted is a lot more harmful than the penalty itself. A lot of people are often caught shoplifting because they’re poor and can’t afford basic grocery items, but there are some people involved with a grand mafia or force someone to shoplift expensive items. Of course, the charge would be totally different in both situations.
If you’ve been accused or you have in fact committed the crime, you would want shoplifting charges dropped- and for that you must contact a defense attorney to guide you with the process.