There are Many Defenses to Retail Theft in Florida
The Florida Senate has passed a bill that will impose much harsher penalties on certain individuals who are charged with retail theft. The bill is targeting people who are accused of shoplifting multiple times in different locations over a short period of time. The news makes being charged with retail theft even more frightening, but it is important to remember that a charge does not automatically lead to a conviction. There are many defenses to retail theft and our Orlando criminal defense lawyer explains what these are below.
You Did Not Mean to Steal the Goods
In order for the prosecution to secure a conviction against you, they must prove that you had the intent to steal the item. It is not uncommon for people to accidentally place an item in their pocket or somewhere else on their person with no intention to steal it. For example, a person may be shopping with a small child in their cart. The child may see a toy and place it into their parent’s bag, not realizing that this is stealing and as such, a crime. The parent may then leave the store, not knowing they are taking a stolen item with them.
Someone Mistook Your Identity
Eyewitnesses, law enforcement, and even retail security guards do not always get it right. An eyewitness may have seen someone wearing a blue hat steal an item. You also happened to be wearing a blue hat at that time and so, the eyewitness mistakenly said you stole the merchandise. Or, a security guard may review video surveillance footage that does not clearly show the person’s face and so, they may also mistakenly think you stole the merchandise. Mistaken identity is often used as a defense in criminal cases, and retail theft is no different.
You Did Not Alter, Remove, or Tamper with the UPC
The crime of retail theft can occur in more than one way. A person taking goods from a store without paying for it is the most obvious one. However, a person can also face charges of retail theft if they alter, remove, or otherwise tamper with the universal product code (UPC). Sometimes, a person is accused of doing this when they did not. For example, a staff member may have affixed the incorrect UPC to an item. When you take that merchandise to the counter to pay for it, the cashier may notice the wrong UPC and accuse you of tampering with it when you did not.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Orlando Can Help You Beat the Charges
Being accused of retail theft is always scary, and the new law only makes it more stressful for those charged. At O’Mara Law Group, our Orlando criminal defense lawyers know the defenses that work and will use them to create a strong case that will help you beat the charges. Call us today at 407-634-6604 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help.