If you have been accused of shoplifting, you have the right to fight the charges. An experienced attorney can help. At Pearson & Paris, P.C., we have more than 50 years of combined legal experience that we will use in your defense. Perhaps more importantly, our top criminal defense attorney is a former senior prosecutor who knows how district attorneys handle these cases. That knowledge allows us to create effective strategies ranging from negotiation to courtroom battles.
Whether in the Denver area or anywhere in Colorado, shoplifting is most often charged as a municipal violation when the value of the item alleged to have been stolen is less than $1,000. As such, it is most often a misdemeanor.
Shoplifting falls under the general concept of theft, when a person knowingly takes the property of another without authorization and conceals the thing of value intending that such concealment will deprive the other person permanently of its use and benefit. If any person willfully conceals unpurchased goods, wares or merchandise that is offered for sale, the court may consider that evidence sufficient to conclude that the person intended to commit the crime of theft/shoplifting.
Possible Consequences For Shoplifting
Shoplifting is rarely charged as a felony, since the items that are commonly the subject of a shoplifting prosecution are less than o$1,000 in value.
Where the value of the goods is less than $500.00, shoplifting is a class 2 misdemeanor and may result in the following sentencing options: (1) probation, with a possible jail sentence as a condition of probation of up to 60 days, or up to a two-year work release sentence as a condition of probation, or (2) a sentence to the county jail of up to one year.
When the value of the goods is $500 or more, but less than $1,000, shoplifting is a class 1 misdemeanor and may result in the following sentencing options: (1) probation, with a possible jail sentence as a condition of probation of up to 60 days, or up to a two-year work release sentence as a condition of probation, or (2) a sentence to the county jail of up to 18 months.
When shoplifting is charged as a municipal violation, the maximum jail sentence is most often one year, regardless of the value of the thing allegedly taken.
Possible Defenses For Shoplifting
The defense most often seen to shoplifting is a lack of intent. This occurs most often when shoppers have their hands full and momentarily and inadvertently place something in a pocket while juggling other items. This is also seen when the shopper inadvertently walks out of the store while holding the item, completely unaware of doing so. It is important to show that the shopper is paying for multiple items that are worth far more than the item alleged to have been stolen. This normally would indicate that the person has the means and the intent to pay; therefore, it makes no sense to take one small item while paying for many numerous larger items.
The remaining defenses that may be applied in a motor vehicle theft case apply with equal force to those that may apply in any other criminal case. This includes an analysis of any violation of constitutional rights, such as the right to remain silent, the right to counsel, the right to have any searches and seizures based on probable cause, a proper warrant, and the right to due process in the proper preservation of evidence that may be used against you. Many other defenses are available that rely on scrutinizing and exposing weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, such as biased or incompetent witnesses, flawed crime scene investigation, flawed administration and procedures in collecting breath, blood or urine for forensic testing, incompetent computer evidence, flawed photo lineups and inaccurate crime scene/accident reconstructions.
It is important that you hire a skilled and experienced lawyer to defend you in a shoplifting case in Wheat Ridge or Jefferson County or across Colorado.