How to beat a shoplifting charge

Retail fraud is a common offense that is regularly prosecuted.  Because shoplifting affects the profitability of stores, owners and corporations have taken steps to combat theft.  Many stores employ a combination of manpower, technology, and aggressively prosecuting offenders as a means to address this issue.

The manpower that is used for larger chain stores is primarily in the form of asset protection (also called loss prevention).  Asset prevention are trained to detect shoplifters based upon their mannerisms or based upon keeping track of persons that have been suspected of stealing from the store in the past.  There is also the use of customer service to actively engage the shopper (“is there something I can help you find”) to create an impression that the shopper is being watched.  Employees try to keep track of how many items are taken into dressing rooms, and to inspect dressing rooms to look for evidence of theft such as removed sensors, removed price tags, and missing items.  Many larger stores also have greeters or persons that verify receipts before the customer exits the store.

Technology can be in many forms.  The obvious technology are closed circuit television cameras and sensor detection devices.  Other forms of technology include store designs that eliminate or reduce blind spots.

Aggressively prosecuting offenders is used to deter people from stealing.  If the word is out that people are arrested and prosecuted for shoplifting, it may deter others from stealing from the store.  Aggressive prosecution includes helping law enforcement do their jobs by providing in store videos of the suspected theft, compiling reports to document the suspected theft, and coming to court to testify in connection with prosecutions.

If you are arrested for shoplifting the question becomes how do you fight the accusation?  The first step is to find not just a lawyer – but a lawyer who has experience defending these types of cases.  In Michigan, one of the most well known when it comes to defending shoplifting is Attorney Daniel Hilf.

How can an experienced lawyer help?  By taking a comprehensive look at your file to explore it for the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.  Remember, it is not your burden to prove yourself innocent – it is the prosecution’s sole burden to try and prove you guilty.

It is also important to remember that the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an intent to steal occurred.  Sometimes people take things by accident without the intention of stealing. The experienced lawyer will consider if the facts and circumstances of the case support whether or not you had an intent to steal.  Without an intent to steal there can be no finding of guilt.

Sometimes the store security just gets it wrong.  You might have been targeted due to a mistake, mistaken identity with someone else, a misinterpretation of what you were doing, or it may be something as nefarious as racial profiling.  Store security might not want to admit that they made a mistaken because they are afraid of getting fired or they are afraid that the store will get sued.  Hiring the right counsel means that the proper, calculated cross examination of prosecution witnesses will occur to try and dispel the accusation made against you.

Sometimes beating a shoplifting case simply means obtaining a great result.  In many cases it is possible to avoid having a conviction or a theft related conviction appear on your record.  In many cases it is possible to avoid jail or prison.  Being guilty of an offense does not mean that you have to receive a bad result.  An experienced lawyer will have strategies to address the prosecution and the Judge, and arguments to mitigate what occurred and to try and reduce the sentence imposed.

It is important that you do not compound the mistake, misunderstanding, or your unlucky circumstances by not having the right lawyer.

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