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DC Shoplifting Lawyer

In Washington, DC, you can be charged with theft if you are accused of taking something that does not belong to you. There is also a specific offense in the DC criminal code that provides penalties for those accused of shoplifting.  If you are arrested, you need to understand what statute(s) you are being charged with violating, what potential penalties you face, and what your options are for defending yourself. A DC shoplifting lawyer can provide you with these answers and provide you with advice on how to approach the criminal charge(s) strategically so you can try to avoid conviction or reduce criminal penalties.

What Are the DC Laws on Shoplifting?

The following acts are considered shoplifting:

  • Knowingly concealing or taking a merchant’s goods without paying the requested price
  • Removing serial numbers or price tags
  • Altering price tags or other identifying marks
  • Transferring items from one container to another or from one package to another

The District of Columbia Code Section 22-311 defines a theft offense as wrongfully obtaining or using someone else’s property with the intent to either:

  • Deprive the rightful owner of the property or any benefits the property provides; or
  • Take the property for your own use or for the use of a third party

You can be accused of theft if the government charges you with using services that you know are available only for compensation and then intentionally not paying for the services.

Shoplifting is defined as a separate crime in D.C. Code 22-3213. It is a specific type of theft offense that charges someone with taking personal property known to be for sale without making full payment.  Shoplifting also encompasses the commission of certain acts intended to defraud a property owner so he receives less than full value for his property.

If you’ve been accused of shoplifting, contacting a DC shoplifting lawyer is important as shoplifting can result in up to 90 days of imprisonment and a fine up to $500 pursuant to D.C. Code 22-357.01. Under D.C. Code 22-3212, first degree theft has a maximum penalty of up to 10 years of incarceration if the value of items taken totals $1,000 or more, and up to 180 days in prison for items valued at less than $1,000.

How Can a DC Shoplifting Lawyer Help You?

Prosecutors will review the facts that led to your arrest and make a decision on whether to charge you with shoplifting or theft.  Depending upon the circumstances, you may be charged with multiple criminal offenses. A DC shoplifting lawyer can fight to have the charges against you dismissed or present arguments and work to raise reasonable doubt that may lead to a not guilty verdict. You do not have to prove your innocence, but you may be able to present defenses such as:

Rightful claim to property:

    • You owned the property you are accused of stealing.

Lack of intent:

    • You did not intend to take the property you are accused of shoplifting.

An attorney can begin an investigation into the facts of your case as soon as you secure legal representation. It is a good idea to contact a DC shoplifting lawyer as soon as possible when you are arrested, so you can start working toward getting the most favorable possible outcome under the circumstances.

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