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DC Shoplifting Penalties

A person charged with shoplifting may want to hire a skilled shoplifting lawyer who investigates the facts being alleged.

They can help prepare the accused for what to expect during the criminal case and begins negotiating with the government.

An attorney could start working on their case to seek out resolutions to DC shoplifting penalties. Contacting a lawyer could give you peace of mind when facing conviction for shoplifting and theft charges.

What is Shoplifting?

In general, taking merchandise from stores with the intention to permanently keep the merchandise constitutes shoplifting in DC. For example, taking clothing off the hangers in a department store and walking out of the store without paying for the items constitutes shoplifting. It is also considered shoplifting if someone switches price tags or alters labels to pay a lower price for an item.

What is the Role of Private Security?

If a private security officer has probable cause to believe that a person has shoplifted, it is legal for the store to detain that person until law enforcement arrives or until the store releases them.

If someone is detained for suspicion of shoplifting, it is best to cooperate with the private security officer and wait for law enforcement to arrive.

Expectations for Private Security Trial Cases

If the case goes to trial, the private security officer may be subpoenaed by the government to testify as to what the individual witnessed. Since stores and businesses want to prevent shoplifting in their own stores, the store employee, manager, or security officer comes to court to act as a witness. This could impact the outcome of someone’s case and possible DC shoplifting penalties.

Elements the Government Must Prove in Theft Cases

To sustain a conviction and DC shoplifting penalties, the government must prove that the person knowingly took possession of property of another.

It is important to note that the government must prove the defendant took the property knowingly and not by mistake.

The government can use circumstantial evidence to prove the defendant took property and not by mistake by showing that the defendant removed tags or placed the items in a purse or a backpack.

Potential DC Shoplifting Penalties

If someone is convicted of shoplifting in DC, the maximum penalties a judge could sentence them to are 90 days in jail, a fine of $500, or both. Depending on the person’s criminal history, it is also possible that they are sentenced to probation instead of jail time.

Benefit of Speaking with a Theft Attorney

Because shoplifting cases are prevalent in DC, these cases often go to trial, especially if the stores want to prosecute for the crime.

An attorney can help a person develop a trial strategy and defenses for DC shoplifting penalties.

An attorney can also help negotiate a potential resolution that may not involve jail time or the risk of being convicted at a trial.

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