Costco Shoplifting Charge
There are several different legal theories under which prosecutors can allege someone committed shoplifting at Costco: the classic situation when store merchandise is stolen or an attempt to steal store merchandise is made; the price tag of the merchandise is intentionally misrepresented or changed; or merchandise is fraudulently exchanged for money or other store merchandise.
Costco based shoplifting cases can be pursued as misdemeanors or felonies. The charge the prosecution chooses to pursue is influenced by a number of different factors, such as: the amount of the alleged theft; the Defendant's prior record; if there were a number of different incidents that were a pattern of activity; the intent of the Defendant (if the intent was to shoplift in order to resell the merchandise to another person or business, the charge pursued is often Organized Retail Theft); whether or not there was any type of violence involved (which could potentially lead to an unarmed or armed robbery charge, depending upon the circumstances); whether or not the Defendant was employed by Costco (which is often pursued as an embezzlement charge).
Hire a Well Respected Defense Lawyer that Specializes in the Defense of Retail Fraud Accusations
Costco has implemented loss prevention related procedures with the goal of reducing retail fraud losses, reducing insurance costs, avoiding litigation, and deterring store theft. Upon information and belief, the different methods used by Costco to combat shoplifting includes (but is not limited to) the following:
1. Extensive use of loss prevention personnel;
2. Receipts checked at the door;
3. Extensive use of high resolution cameras, closed circuit television, and other surveillance equipment;
4. Review of inventory and camera footage;
5. Use of membership cards to identify alleged shoplifters and potential witnesses;
6. Information gathered concerning suspected prior shoplifters used for investigative purposes;
7. Cultivating relationships with local law enforcement;
8. Willingness to prosecute individuals.
A recent case handled by Hilf & Hilf, PLC involved the alleged theft of alcohol from Costco. Costco conducted an investigation related to shortages in their inventory. In particular, the number of bottles of a particular brand of alcohol that were inventoried at the beginning of a particular day did not match the number of bottles in stock at the end of the day, when compared to sales records for the product for the date. Costco reviewed the entire date's camera footage to determine when, where, and who took the alcohol in question. Costco used a number of cameras to determine when the alcohol was taken from the shelf and that the alcohol was concealed in a purse in a different location in the store. Costco was able to identify who took the alcohol, because the individual purchased some items on the date that the alcohol was taken. The video footage matched the picture on the membership card. Costco then used the individual's membership information to determine what other dates and Costco locations she shopped at. Costco reviewed the videos from different dates and stores to determine that other thefts occurred, and to try and determine if there were any persons aiding and abetting her. Costco authored loss prevention reports, preserved the videos, calculated the amount of the theft, and reported that information to law enforcement. Prior to my involvement with the case, based upon the information provided by Costco to law enforcement, detectives contacted and interviewed my client and obtained an inculpatory statement from her. In spite of the above information, I was able to obtain a resolution that involved a reduced charge and no incarceration.
It is important to remember that not everyone who is investigated of a crime is guilty. Even with extensive and sophisticated loss prevention technology and intensive employee training, mistakes are still made and persons are still sometimes falsely arrested due to errors in judgment (false identification of a suspect, false interpretation of a situation, etc.), cultural issues, and procedural errors - all of which can potentially lead to obtaining an acquittal, dismissal, or negotiating for a great result.
The lawyer that you retain will obtain all the available discovery materials to properly fully defend the accusation, which can include the following: police report(s), loss prevention report(s), witness statement(s), in store video(s), police video(s), photograph(s), statement(s) the police and/or loss prevention claims that you made, etc. Ultimately, you can either fight your shoplifting case at trial in front of a Judge or jury, or resolve the case through a plea or plea bargain (if a plea bargain is offered). Reaching a settlement of your shoplifting accusation without a trial may involve a plea bargain (an agreement with the prosecution to dismiss, expunge, or reduce the charge(s) against you) or a sentence agreement (an agreement with the Judge [such as Killebrew agreement] to impose a specific sentence, such as avoiding or limiting any confinement).
Before your next Court date for your Costco related accusation, make the wise decision to hire an experienced top rated defense attorney to help you obtain the best possible result for your circumstances. Again, any theft based conviction will likely cause you many problems well into the future, including making it extremely difficult to find a job or establish a good career, because many employers do not want to risk hiring someone convicted of stealing. Retain top rated Michigan attorney Daniel Hilf to defend you, because he is an impassioned, zealous, and aggressive criminal defense lawyer with over 20 years of experience inside and outside of courtrooms helping clients obtain great results for retail fraud and other theft accusations. It is very important to choose a lawyer that has your best interest at heart to work on your behalf!
If you have been accused of any theft crime, such as retail fraud, it's time to make an impactful decision concerning you and your future to contact us right away.