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Building a Fairfax Shoplifting Defense

Retail theft is a much more serious offense than people realize. Depending on the price of items that an individual allegedly took, they could face serious consequences. That is why, if you have been charged with shoplifting, it is important to work with a seasoned shoplifting lawyer that has experience preparing shoplifting defenses. Building a Fairfax shoplifting defense is difficult to do alone but with a dedicated shoplifting attorney on your side, you can rest assured that you are in capable hands.

How Does Shoplifting Differ From Other Theft-Related Offenses?

The main way in which shoplifting differs from other theft-related offenses is that there is generally a merchant or a loss prevention officer involved, meaning that the police are dealing with an experienced professional who is assisting them in preparing their case. A security guard at the mall or a loss prevention officer at the grocery store will have a great deal of experience:

  • Following people on videotape
  • Following people around the store in person to watch if they are concealing merchandise
  • Will know exactly what facts the court is looking for in their testimony
  • Will know what facts they need to be able to present to the prosecutor to secure a conviction

For these reasons, many shoplifting charges are easier for the prosecution to prove because there is generally a professional witness involved. That is also why building a Fairfax shoplifting defense is so important

Elements of the Crime of Shoplifting

The elements of the crime of shoplifting are going to depend upon exactly what offense is charged. For example, if concealment of merchandise is charged, the elements would simply be that an individual concealed merchandise while in a store with the intention to take that merchandise from the owner without paying for it. In a concealment case, the fact that somebody has merchandise concealed (that it cannot be easily seen) is enough evidence for the court to consider that an individual may be guilty of the crime of concealment, whereas someone who is charged with a petty larceny with a slightly different set of elements. In a petty larceny case, the prosecutor will have to prove that an individual took an item from a store without permission and with the intent to keep the item permanent (with the intent to keep that item from the store permanently). There is a slightly different element, but either crime will be treated the same way when it is taken to court in Virginia.

Steps When Building a Defense

There are several initial steps that will be important for a defendant and attorney when building a Fairfax shoplifting defense. The attorney will want to gather all evidence possible and speak with the defendant about what evidence there might be. The attorney will also want to explore all of the possible mitigating factors involved and what steps can be taken to improve the bargaining situation for the defendant as much as possible.

Probation and Reduced Sentencing Options

In counties such as Fairfax, where there is a First Offender’s Program for a shoplifting charge, the first question an attorney can help a defendant answer is whether it is advisable in their case to request to participate in the First Offender’s Program or whether an alternative route of action might better suit their individual need. Additionally, in counties that do not have a First Offender’s Program or for people who are charged in Fairfax who are not eligible for a First Offender’s Program, working with an attorney who has a lot of experience working with the prosecutors in a particular county can help the defendant improve their bargaining situation and navigate the best route to a strong defense.

Value of a Fairfax Shoplifting Attorney

It can be very helpful to have an attorney advocating for you if you are facing shoplifting charges, both because an experienced attorney may know how to navigate the court process and will also be able to speak on your behalf. When the prosecutor is considering the case, they will be working with the police officer and with the loss prevention officer or with a merchant, and having an attorney enables you to bring your concerns and your side of the story to the attention of the prosecutor in a productive way. If you have been charged with a shoplifting offense, speak with a capable shoplifting lawyer that could begin building a Fairfax shoplifting defense for you.

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