If you are facing criminal charges related to shoplifting in Lexington, KY, Suhre & Associates, LLC, is here to help.
We understand the embarrassment, stress, and uncertainty these charges can bring to our clients.
Our compassionate, knowledgeable, and skilled legal team knows how to win shoplifting cases in the commonwealth of Kentucky.
Contact our Lexington shoplifting lawyers at Suhre & Associates, LLC, today to help you beat these charges.
How Suhre & Associates, LLC, Can Help After a Shoplifting Charge in Lexington, KY
Charges of shoplifting in the commonwealth can sometimes lead to serious consequences. You need the best Lexington shoplifting lawyers on your side.
Whether you committed the crime or are being falsely accused of shoplifting, remember:
- Do not plead guilty to these charges
- Do not speak to anyone regarding specifics of the case
- Call our criminal defense attorneys in Lexington immediately
Our skilled legal team will gather all the evidence in your case and root out any discrepancies. Among other things, we will examine police reports, review the conduct of the store staff and security, consider any audio or video footage, and talk to witnesses. We will fight to have these charges dropped or lessened.
Contact us online or by phone to see how we can help you fight these theft charges and keep a misdemeanor or felony off your criminal record today.
Shoplifting in Lexington, Kentucky
Shoplifting is typically defined as taking merchandise from a retail store without paying. In Kentucky, store employees are permitted to detain you, despite only having a suspicion that you were shoplifting. Officers are even allowed to arrest you on the same premise.
A few examples that also qualify as shoplifting, but that may not be as obvious as simply taking items out of the store without paying:
- You can be faced with shoplifting charges even if you are not the one who committed the crime. Accompanying a shoplifter can result in the defendant being charged with associated shoplifting charges. Prosecutors will accuse the defendant of playing lookout or otherwise aiding in the crime. Typically, evidence in these situations is relatively sparse and difficult for the prosecution to prove.
- The accused could also face shoplifting charges for opening, using, or consuming food merchandise inside the store before payment is rendered.
- If the price tag on the merchandise is incorrect, staff may accuse you of shoplifting by changing the price tag.
Particularly unfair is that you can also be arrested and charged with shoplifting even if the store staff and police officers have reason to simply suspect that you did not intend to pay.
Penalties for Shoplifting in Lexington
Being charged with shoplifting can change the way family and friends view your character. They may no longer trust you in their homes or around their belongings. Being convicted of shoplifting can also damage more than just your reputation.
Theft charges, including shoplifting, can have long term consequences with regards to employment opportunities. Degrees of shoplifting penalties are related to the amount of merchandise you are accused of stealing. These penalties include:
- If the individual is accused of stealing merchandise valued at less than $500 they face a Class A misdemeanor charge, punishable by a fine of up to $500 and jail time of no more than one year.
- If the amount of merchandise is over $500 and under $10,000, the crime becomes a Class D felony charge, punishable by 1 – 5 years jail time.
- If the value of goods is at $10,000 and under $1,000,000, it is a Class C felony. Punishment for this crime includes jail time of 5-10 years, along with a fine of whichever is greater—double the amount stolen or $10,000
- If the value of stolen items is $1,000,000 or more, it is a Class B felony, with 10-20 years in jail..
In addition to the value of the goods, penalties will depend on a number of other factors, including your criminal history and even your conduct at the time of the incident and during ensuing events.
While it is natural to feel shame and humiliation when confronted for shoplifting, it is important to exercise restraint and not resist. How you behaved during the accusation and while being detained can be used by the prosecution to argue for a greater penalty. This is where a strong defense attorney can help explain any erratic or frustrated behavior..
What Raises Suspicion of Shoplifting?
A number of factors can play a part in whether someone is suspected of shoplifting, including physical characteristics and social stereotypes. Such discrimination and irrelevant factors that often lead to false accusations include:
- Race: Communities of color are often more likely to be accused of shoplifting than others.
- Shopping Method: Browsing idly can be mistaken for scoping out certain items or waiting for a prime opportunity to steal.
- Appearance: Being unkempt, poorly dressed, or appearing to be under the influence.
- Time in Store: Either shopping too slowly or anxiously rushing through the department store can lead to false accusations of shoplifting.
- Demeanor: If the accused is naturally an antisocial or introverted individual and avoids unnecessary interactions and eye contact, it could raise suspicion of shoplifting.
- People Watching: Something as innocent as observing your surroundings inside a store, for safety reasons or entertainment, can lead to accusations of attempting to commit a crime.
- Baggy Clothing and Large Bags: If you wear oversized clothing or are carrying large bags, you may be monitored more closely and accused unfairly because you have the opportunity to hide items on your person.
You may have a claim of false imprisonment if you are accused and detained on the grounds of suspected shoplifting without a basis for the allegations. It is not okay for a retail store to detain you on the basis of bias or discrimination, or without adequate evidence that a theft has in fact occurred.
Any loss that results from detainment can be pursued in court for the defendant. False imprisonment can be defined as time spent detained at the retail store, police station, or jail.
Possible Mitigating Factors in Shoplifting
There are cases in which the act of shoplifting may have mitigating factors that our lawyers can raise with the prosecution. If the underlying reason for shoplifting is something that can be justified, the charges against you may be dropped or lessened. Examples could include:
- Mental Illness: When a perpetrator is struggling with mental illness, petty crimes such as shoplifting are often the result of psychological issues that may alter appropriate decision making. Those on antidepressants or other medications, or who are struggling with anxiety disorders or personality disorders, may be exempt from harsher punishment.
- Poverty: Shoplifting out of necessity or survival to feed oneself and/or children, is often understood in a courtroom. A mother stealing formula in order to feed her infant is a mitigating factor.
- Family: Holiday shoplifting is common. Sometimes, a parent simply wants to give their child a good holiday and may make poor decisions to make that happen.
All of these reasons may help to lessen charges or even have your shoplifting charges dropped. Whether that happens may depend on whether you have experienced attorneys on your side who know to ask about these kinds of issues. Our criminal defense lawyers at Suhre & Associates are renowned for their skill in helping clients charged with shoplifting and other theft crimes.
What Makes People Shoplift?
Shoplifting does not always happen because someone cannot afford an item or simply wants to own it. There are complex emotional and psychological reasons that often come into play. The existence of these issues can make a difference in a shoplifting case to help the prosecution understand that deeper issues led to the crime.
- Emotional High: Shoplifters sometimes get a “high” by taking things. They get an adrenaline rush at being able to get away with something. If they do get away with it, it actually causes them to seek such a high again. It gets to a point where the impulse and instinct to shoplift becomes an addiction.
- Kleptomania: Individuals suffering from kleptomania are prone to shoplifting for absolutely no reason at all. They do not need the items they take. They differ from those who seek an emotional high because kleptomaniacs do not get any high from stealing. This psychological problem is often accompanied by other issues such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, personality disorders, and mood swings.
- Peer Pressure: Typically seen with adolescents, shoplifting due to peer pressure is unfortunately seen as a rite of passage to feel accepted by friends.
Our shoplifting lawyers can help in all these situations. These are factors you should share with our team so we can take them into account as part of your case. The more information you share, the better able we are to build a strong defense strategy.
Contact a Lexington Shoplifting Lawyer Today
Being charged with shoplifting can be humiliating, but there are ways to address the issues and get your charges dropped or lessened. Not all lawyers understand the nuances of these types of theft charges and the strategies that could work in your case. Our Lexington shoplifting lawyers at Suhre & Associates, LLC have seen it all and we know all the options and angles available to you.
Give our Fayette County, Kentucky law office a call today to discuss your case.