Legal Defenses for Shoplifting Charges

Although shoplifting is considered a misdemeanor crime, a conviction for this can have significant consequences that can impact your reputation and livelihood. Many people assume that shoplifting is a minor crime and the consequences will be minimal, however, shoplifting poses a serious threat to your freedom and personal finances. In addition to being charged with a crime, you can also be sued by the owner of the business accusing you of shoplifting.

Defending against shoplifting charges usually requires you to poke holes in the prosecution’s case by challenging the evidence and procedures that led to your arrest. In this blog, we explain common shoplifting defenses that can be used in court.

The act of shoplifting includes the following two elements:

  • Intentional concealment or possession of an item that is for sale
  • Intent to permanently deprive the store of the item without paying for it (steal)

The key element when it comes to defending against these charges is “intent.” A skilled attorney can argue that you didn't intend to shoplift, accidentally forgot to pay, or tried to immediately return the item when you realized your mistake.

Although shoplifting cases often rely on video evidence, some cases rely on witness testimony which can be challenged on the grounds of being unreliable, biased, or false. An experienced lawyer might be able to defend your shoplifting charge by negotiating a plea deal with the prosecutor. Doing this can perhaps get your arrest or conviction expunged. Another way to fight shoplifting charges is to negotiate directly with the store owner instead of negotiating with the prosecution.

If you have been accused of shoplifting, you should immediately consult with an experienced attorney. Contact our Rhode Island team of criminal defense attorneys to schedule a free consultation today.