Caught Stealing From a Store? Steel Yourself For Harsh Consequences.
If you opened this post to find a list of signs that you should hire a shoplifting lawyer, here it is:
- Store personnel, private security, or police accuse you of shoplifting.
That’s it. That’s the list. If you are caught walking out of a store, business, or another establishment in Colorado with products you did not pay for, you will need a shoplifting lawyer. Even before you face criminal charges, the moment store personnel or security detains you for suspicion of shoplifting, you should speak with a shoplifting lawyer.
Why? Because shoplifting is a form of theft, and convictions for theft in El Paso County can come with severe penalties, especially if what you attempted to shoplift is worth a lot of money or you have a previous theft conviction on your record. The potential consequences for shoplifting include the possibility of time beyond bars, hefty fines, and the payment of restitution to the owner of the property you stole. A conviction for theft can also haunt you for years to come, limiting your employment opportunities and branding you as dishonest and untrustworthy.
Just Trying To Steal An Item Can Result In a Shoplifting Charge
Under Colorado’s theft laws, you can face shoplifting charges even before trying to leave the store. El Paso and Teller County prosecutors will charge you with shoplifting if you knowingly obtained, retained, or exercised control over anything of value in a store or other establishment without authorization or by threat or deception, and you intended to permanently deprive the store of the use or benefit of the thing of value.
This means if you put a skirt, watch, liquor bottle, or another item under your shirt or in a bag, prosecutors could charge you with shoplifting even if you never make it to the front door.
But to obtain a conviction for theft, prosecutors need to prove that you intended to steal the item. If you accidentally walk out of a store with an item because you forgot you had the item in your hand, you should not be found guilty of shoplifting.
This is where an experienced shoplifting defense lawyer on your side can make a difference. By presenting evidence and testimony that you lacked the requisite intent to shoplift, your attorney can help you avoid being convicted for theft. Even if you did have such intent, your defense attorney can negotiate with Colorado Springs prosecutors to reduce the charges or admit you into a pretrial diversion program, especially if it is your first offense or the item at issue is of minimal value.
Penalties for Colorado Shoplifting
The penalties for shoplifting in Colorado largely depend on the value of the item stolen. For example, if the item was worth less than $50, it is a class 1 petty offense that can result in up to 6-months of jail time and /or a fine of up to $500. That can be a hefty penalty for shoplifting a small item. But if you shoplift goods worth between $5,000 and $20,000, prosecutors can charge you with a class 5 felony. If they succeed and you are convicted, you could be facing up to three years in state prison and fines in excess of $100,000.
Detained By Store Personnel or Security? Call a Shoplifting Lawyer Immediately
If a store employee or private security guard detains you on suspicion of shoplifting, you should call a shoplifting lawyer as soon as possible to protect yourself from conduct that could violate your rights and lead to your arrest.
Store personnel and security will likely take you to a back room of the store, against your will, and pressure you to admit that you intended to shoplift the item; They may even tell you that if you just sign a written “confession” or admission, they will let you go on your way. Don’t believe them.
DO NOT admit wrongdoing and DO NOT sign ANYTHING that purports to indicate your agreement that you did intend to steal the item. If you do so, the store will call the police anyway and happily hand them your signed admission that you were, in fact, shoplifting. The police will then happily give the document to prosecutors who will attempt to use your signed confession against you to obtain your conviction.
Instead, tell the store that you wish to speak with an attorney, and then immediately call an experienced shoplifting lawyer. While store employees and private security guards have a right to protect their store from shoplifters, they are not the police. There are rules they have to follow in order to make a shoplifting apprehension. If they violate those rules and your rights, you may have a claim against them. For example, if the store employees or security wrongfully detain you against your will, you may be able to bring suit against the store for false imprisonment. Make sure you document your entire experience so you have a record of exactly what the store employees or security personnel said and did.
Don’t Take Chances With Your Future: Call An Experienced Colorado Springs Theft Attorney Today
If you have been arrested for shoplifting, you need a shoplifting lawyer who understands that there is no such thing as a minor criminal conviction for theft. Find out how experienced Colorado Springs theft attorneys at James Newby Law can help you fight the charges.