How those accused of shoplifting can defend against those charges

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Shoplifting, also known as retail theft or retail fraud, is one of the most common crimes committed in Florida. People of all ages and backgrounds get arrested based on allegations that they attempted to misappropriate retail goods belonging to a business.

Particularly when the person accused does not have a criminal record, their first instinct might be to plead guilty. They expect lenience from the courts. After all, shoplifting charges often arise due to misunderstandings and assumptions. Someone left an item under their cart by accident while going through the checkout lane, and the business blames the customer instead of the cashier who never checked.

Those accused of shoplifting in Florida may have several options for fighting back against their pending charges, depending on the circumstances.

The standard for shoplifting cases is quite high

Many shoplifting cases involve preemptive action. Loss prevention, security or management employees at a retail establishment stop someone before they ever exit the business and therefore prevent the theft from actually occurring.

The state may proceed with prosecution based on the allegations of store employees and Florida state statutes that make removing security devices or concealing merchandise in a fence even if theft does not occur. Those accused of shoplifting could develop a different narrative about what happened at the store to push back on claims that they intended to steal while shopping.

They could raise questions about the allegations made by the business. Often, a worker witnesses something questionable, which they then report to management, security or loss prevention specialists. Especially when there is no video footage of the conduct and when there are gaps in the witness’s testimony, defendants may be able to fight the charges they face at a trial.

Many shoplifting cases are not as strong as state prosecutors would like defendants to believe. Perhaps the person arrested and charged looks similar to an individual who has a known history of stealing from the business, or maybe there is other circumstantial but weak evidence that they stole or intended to steal from an establishment. The best defense strategy often requires a review of the evidence first.

Fighting back against Florida shoplifting charges can preserve someone’s reputation and their freedom. Defendants who examine their cases carefully may have an easier time asserting themselves after unfair accusations.