Virginia Shoplifting Defense 

Shoplifting cases are less straightforward than most people would expect them to be. Someone might have something in their hand that they intended to pay for, and forgot about. An individual’s intentions are not always clear, so even if someone has every intention of paying for something it does not matter, if the sales associate believes you were going to shoplift. Because shoplifting cases can be complicated, it can be helpful to get in contact with a lawyer who is aware of these nuances. If you have been charged with shoplifting, it is vital that you get in touch with an adept shoplifting attorney who can start working on your Virginia shoplifting defense.

Shoplifting Defense Strategies

Every case is different and attorneys have a responsibility to look at the facts and circumstances surrounding each case but generally, there are two main areas of defense. Lack of intent is clearly, by far, the most common Virginia shoplifting defense that lawyers employ. There have been many cases over the years where people forgot to pay for something and maybe it was nestled in with another item and got lost in a shuffle. In one case, an item fell into a diaper bag that was hanging off the bag of a shopping cart and it was plain to see from the view of the security footage, but that person had no intention of placing it in that baby bag or diaper bag.

An alternate defense might be that the person never truly intended to leave the store. There was another case where a person had a shopping cart full of items and they walked out to the front of the store to look at some plants that were on display out in front of the store with the intention of shopping for those plants and ultimately picking one up. Technically, they made it outside the last point of sale, their intention was not to leave past the last point of sale, their intention was not to leave the store and that can be established through evidence from security footage. A prosecutor will need to prove that the person took possession of an item that did not belong to them with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of that item.

Preparing a Defense

When preparing a Virginia shoplifting defense, the first thing is to look into facts and circumstances in each case, talk to the client and find out what happened from their perspective. The second step is to review any security footage that might be available. Most retail stores that assist in prosecuting shoplifting charges do have a rather sophisticated surveillance system within their store.

A lawyer should be able to look at that footage under most circumstances and determine whether or not the charges against the client can stick. Beyond those two things, attorneys seem to look at what the government is saying, what the loss prevention officials are saying from the store to determine whether or not they can prove the case against the client.

Compelling Evidence

Cases depend on what the evidence shows against the client and what statements the client might have made. If the evidence is compelling and the client made a confession type statement to lost prevention or if they need to slide into mitigation mode, the attorney will try to stop at the client’s landing. However, if the evidence is somewhat ambiguous and the client denied intending to steal the item, then they should have defenses that are available to them. An attorney understands the unique aspects of shoplifting in Virginia and can build a strong defense based on the evidence. They need to look at each individual case and determine whether or not there are any viable defenses.

How an Attorney Can Help

The number one thing is that a lawyer can help in that situation to know the jurisdiction that they are in and know the local practices within those jurisdictions. Some jurisdiction will put a person on probation for first offense shoplifting charges. Under most circumstances, they will allow that person to walk away from this experience without any kind of conviction at all.

Other jurisdictions cannot engage in first offender programs or probation. The first thing a person needs to do is have an attorney who is intimately familiar with the jurisdiction where the person is charged in order to determine whether they are eligible for some kind of probation, diversion or not.