What are my options for handling a shoplifting charge?

Shoplifting is a crime and being accused of pilfering something from a store can be one of the most embarrassing things that could ever happen to you. Because stores are often filled with other patrons, you could become the subject of some very unwanted attention if you are singled out for attempting to steal something.


And once the initial ordeal of being apprehended by security and arrested by the police is over, you may be tempted to simply plead guilty and accept your punishment quietly. But if you take this route, remember, a shoplifting conviction will go on your record, meaning that potential employers or other people could see it when doing a background check.

So you may want to consider fighting the charge to keep the conviction off of your record. But first, you should understand the two elements required to make a shoplifting charge stick. Both elements involve intent. First, that you intend to possess or conceal an item being sold. Second, that you intended to permanently remove the item from the store without paying for it.

If you hire a lawyer to fight the charges, he or she has a couple of possible strategies that could be employed. If the charges were contingent upon eyewitness reports of your activity in the store, it may be possible to demonstrate that the witnesses were mistaken, biased or unreliable.

But if the evidence is more compelling, say you were caught on video, the attorney may be able to work on your behalf to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor to get you the best possible outcome. The attorney may even be able to negotiate an agreement with the store owner which allows you to avoid being prosecuted for shoplifting.


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