It was a normal day for you then, it happened. You went into a store for some supplies and left in the custody of Alabama police. You've been charged with shoplifting. What does this mean for your future?
The law defines shoplifting as the theft of store merchandise. A store employee or a police officer must accuse you of taking, or trying to take, property from a store without permission or without paying for it in order to garner a shoplifting charge.
What are the elements required to achieve a conviction in a shoplifting case?
Two very specific elements must exist in order for prosecuting attorneys to secure a conviction in a shoplifting case. These elements are:
- Purposefully taking merchandise from a place of business
- Having intent to take the item or items without paying for them
Intent really is the key word here. Concealing an item is often enough to meet the intent requirement.
Crime severity and consequences
Shoplifting crimes vary in their severity. Some are low-level offenses considered infractions. Others can be felony level offenses. How you are ultimately charged really depends on the details of your case and the value of the item or items you stand accused of trying to take.
Just as crime severity varies, so do the consequences associated with convictions. Infractions often result in fines. A conviction on a misdemeanor offense may result in one spending time behind bars and having to pay a minor fine. For felony level offenses, the penalties attached to a conviction often include lengthy incarceration and hefty fines.
If you find yourself in a position of facing some level of shoplifting charge, it does not mean that you will automatically be found guilty. You will have your day in court and the opportunity to defend yourself.
Believe it or not, there may be a number of defense strategies for shoplifting charges that may work in your favor. Thankfully, you do not need to figure all this out on your own. With legal counsel at your side, you can pursue a legal course that you believe will serve your best interests -- whether that entails seeking a case dismissal, charge reduction or alternative sentencing. By working to defend yourself, you can fight to protect your rights and your future.