Shoplifting on Camera
There are several different but universal legal theories under which prosecutors can allege someone committed shoplifting: 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.
Shoplifting cases can be pursued as misdemeanors or felonies depending upon a number of factors including: the amount of the alleged theft; the Defendant's prior record; if a pattern of thefts occurred; 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 the store (which is often pursued as an embezzlement charge). The laws of each State may vary concerning these laws and the possible punishment.
Hire a Well Respected Defense Lawyer that Specializes in the Defense of Shoplifting Accusations
Major retail stores has implemented well designed loss prevention related procedures with the goal of reducing retail fraud losses, reducing high insurance costs, avoiding contested and/or costly litigation, and deterring store theft in general. The different methods used to combat shoplifting includes (but is not limited to) the following:
1. Extensive use of well trained loss prevention personnel;
2. Receipts checked at the door to guard against push outs;
3. Widespread use of high resolution cameras (with the ability zoom in and move in different directions), closed circuit television, sensor tags, face recognition technology, and other surveillance equipment;
4. Loss Prevention review of inventory and camera footage;
5. Use of membership cards, credit cards, and debit cards, to identify alleged shoplifters and potential witnesses;
6. Information and databases gathered concerning suspected prior shoplifters used for investigative purposes;
7. Cultivating relationships with local law enforcement;
8. Willingness to prosecute individuals, and to appear at Court for court proceedings.
A recent case handled by Hilf & Hilf, PLC involved the alleged theft of alcohol from a major retailer. The retailer conducted an investigation related to shortages in their inventory of a particular brand of alcohol. Specifically, the number of bottles of that 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. The major retailer reviewed the entire date's camera footage to determine when, where, and who took the alcohol in question. The major retailer used a number of high tech cameras to determine when the alcohol was taken from the shelf and that the alcohol was concealed in a purse in a different aisle in the store (they followed the person from when she entered the store until she exited the store with the cameras). The major retailer was able to identify who took the alcohol, because the individual purchased some items on the date that the alcohol was taken with her membership/credit card. The clear video footage matched the picture on the membership card (they could zoom the camera on the face in high resolution). The major retailer then used the individual's membership information to determine what other dates and store locations she shopped at. The major retailer reviewed the videos from different dates and stores to determine that other in store thefts occurred, and to try and determine if there were any persons aiding and abetting her. The major retailer authored loss prevention reports, preserved the videos, calculated the amount of the theft from these multiple occasions, and reported that information to the law enforcement agencies that had jurisdiction. Based upon the information provided by major retailer to law enforcement, detectives contacted and interviewed my eventual client and obtained an inculpatory statement from her concerning this incident. The information gathered was used to pursue other cases against other individuals. 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 of what they are accused of. Even with the latest loss prevention technology and a small army of loss prevention personnel, 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 criminal defense lawyer that you retain (if arrested) 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 criminal charge 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 resolution of your shoplifting accusation without having 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 scheduled Court date for your accusation, make the wise decision to hire an experienced defense attorney to help you obtain the best possible result for your circumstances. Again, any shoplifting or other 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 highly regarded and respected 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 shoplifting and other theft related accusations.
If you have been accused of any theft related crime, such as shoplifting, now is the time to make an impactful decision concerning you and your future by contacting us right away.