Retail Theft Attorney in Salt Lake County, Utah
Decades of Retail Theft Case Expertise
Retail theft, sometimes referred to as shoplifting, is most often charged as a Class B Misdemeanor because the value of the property stolen is most often less than $500.00. However, a third Retail Theft charge can be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor if you have been twice before been convicted of a Class B retail theft if each prior offense was committed within 10 years before the date of the current conviction or the date of the offense upon which the current conviction is based.
A first offense retail theft charge can also be charged as a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the stolen property is higher than $500.00 but less than $1,500.00, or as a third-degree felony, the value of the stolen property is greater than $1,500.00 but less than $5,000.00. The value of the item is an essential element of the prosecution's case and must be established and proven by the state. As part of its case, the prosecution must also prove that you knowingly and intentionally stole the item. For this reason, theft is sometimes referred to as a specific intent crime. Negligence, misunderstanding, or failing to pay attention can sometimes be a defense to a charge of theft.
Many retail establishments have security cameras on their premises. In order to use the recordings of these cameras, the prosecution must, of course, obtain these recordings from the store or the establishment. To be used as evidence in court against you, the recording must be an accurate recording of the episode from which you’ve been charged, and the recording obviously cannot have become lost, recorded over, or have been aimed in the wrong direction. If any security recording exists, the defense is entitled to a copy of it. If the recording has been lost or destroyed, this can sometimes be part of the basis for a motion to dismiss the case.
Any live witnesses that the prosecution intends to testify at trial must be present in court, at the trial, and must be able to positively identify you as the individual that stole the items. If the witnesses are uncertain about this identification or simply don’t remember, you can ask the court to dismiss the charge, as identification is one of the essential elements of the prosecution’s case, and must, with all the other elements of the charge, be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
While retail theft is typically not as serious as other types of criminal offense, there can still be very serious repercussions and charges you face because of this type of crime. There are many nuanced laws surrounding retail theft. Hiring a competent defense attorney who understands the law and how to defend this type of case can help you understand better what charges you potentially face and what to expect.
Questioning Live Witnesses
During a retail theft case hearing, any and all live witnesses are typically expected to testify in person at the hearing. The testimonies of these witnesses can be used to build a pretty strong case against you. However, these witnesses must be able to positively identify you as the person responsible for the stolen goods. Without this positive identification, your defense attorney can ask for the charges to be dismissed.
Analyzing Security Footage
Retail theft cases are different from most crimes because they are almost always recorded. This is because retail businesses often have security cameras set up at multiple angles that provide twenty-four-hour surveillance of the premises. It can be intimidating hearing that a retail business has video footage that will be used against you since this type of evidence is more difficult to refute than a weak witness testimony. Competent defense attorneys know, however, and will use the fact that reconstructed and shoddy video footage or footage from a questionable angle cannot be used against you.
Another important part of a retail theft case hearing is determining the intent behind the alleged theft. A defense attorney can help you build a strong case based on what your actual intentions were. For example, negligence, misunderstanding, or failure to pay attention to something can be used in your defense.
Theft is rather minor when compared with other types of crime. However, a criminal offense of any kind on your record can be very detrimental when you are applying for new jobs, housing, and other opportunities. There are many different aspects and factors to consider when defending a retail theft case, so it is important to find a defense attorney you trust.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with having to defend a retail theft case, contact Dave Clark Law here today for a free consultation. Dave Clark is a well-seasoned defense attorney that can help alleviate many of your worries surrounding the case.