If you were charged with shoplifting, you should not risk appearing in court alone. Contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible to begin building a Prince William County shoplifting defense. An attorney could stand by your side and fight for a positive resolution to your case.
When preparing a defense, a shoplifting attorney will acquire all the evidence that exists in support of the charge from the victim. If that evidence is inconclusive or subject to different interpretations of innocence, then the attorney will prepare to dispute that evidence accordingly. If the evidence is decent or strong against the defendant, the attorney will attempt to find ways to exclude that evidence under technical court rules or will begin negotiations with the prosecution and the victim. Lastly, if it seems inevitable that the accused will be convicted of the charge, the attorney will prepare a mitigation strategy for sentencing to justify why the conviction should carry a relatively minor sentence within the total range of punishment allowed by law.
Some judges have informal tendencies to sentence defendants lightly for first offenses by giving them all suspended jail time or ordering them to be supervised on probation instead of going to jail. That probation sometimes includes enrollment in shoplifting intervention classes, completion of community service hours, or both.
If a first offense is particularly minor in nature, some judges will place the defendant on this kind of supervision for a number of months and then dismiss the charge if the defendant successfully completes the supervised program. Judges and prosecutors are also much more sympathetic toward property that appears to have been taken out of the sense of necessity rather than luxury.
Defense attorneys can help an accused get these lighter punishment options through formal and informal advocacy throughout the various phases of shoplifting case.
Defenses to a shoplifting charge are very similar to other theft offenses, but there will be more scrutiny on how to interpret a person’s initial touching of the property in question. Oftentimes there is not a clear view of what exactly happened because the store camera is located at an unhelpful angle or distance. There are many ways customers can physically examine or carry items around inside of stores that are completely innocent or permissible in nature. A shoplifting defense will often be centered upon portraying the accused’s possession of the property in this light.
Negotiations and “intent” defenses tend to be easier in shoplifting cases because the accused never actually got away with the property in question. Accordingly, it is easier to argue that the charge was premature because it is essentially a prediction of a theft that only might have happened. Moreover, because the property was never taken out of the store, shoplifting victims and prosecutors tend to be more open to settling the case without trial. There is no restitution to be paid since the property was recovered on the scene.
A defense lawyer serves as an impartial liaison between the accused, the prosecution, and the alleged victim. This serves a dual purpose of engaging in negotiations concerning the outcome of the case as well as facilitating the acquisition of evidence that the accused cannot easily get on their own. An attorney can also prepare and assess a defense strategy for the accused with a more informed perspective of what would be allowed to be presented in court and how best to present it. Finally, a defense attorney can give the accused the most accurate estimation of what sentence will be imposed if convicted.
Local attorneys have the best insight into the positions that specific prosecutors, police officers, and judges will likely take in response to particular evidence. Local attorneys have most likely developed positive working relationships with these parties which can yield the best results in terms of gaining access to important evidence in advance of court dates and negotiating a favorable plea bargain if a trial would not be worth the risk. Similarly, local attorneys are familiar with the unique procedural differences that one jurisdiction may have over another.
If you face charges of shoplifting, call an attorney as soon as possible. Building a Prince William County shoplifting defense involves a detailed analysis of the facts, but a skilled attorney is up to the task. Reach out today to get started on your case.
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