How To Defend Against Shoplifting Charges

In 2020, the Wyoming legislature consolidated the crime of shoplifting with other theft offenses. Under Wyoming law:

A person is guilty of theft if he knowingly takes, obtains, procures, retains or exercises control over or makes an unauthorized transfer of an interest in the property of another person without authorization or by threat or by deception, or he receives, loans money by pawn or pledge on or disposes of the property of another person that he knew or reasonably should have known was stolen, and he:

(i) Intends to deprive the other person of the use or benefit of the property;

(ii) Knowingly uses, receives, conceals, abandons or disposes of the property in such manner as to deprive the other person of its use or benefit; or

(iii) Demands anything of value to which he has no legal claim as a condition for returning or otherwise restoring the property to the other person.

A person commits misdemeanor theft if they steal goods or services valued at less than $1,000. Misdemeanor theft is punishable by up to six months in prison and a $750 fine.

Theft is a felony if the value of the stolen property is $1,000 or more. Felony theft is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The same penalty applies if a person steals a firearm, horse, mule, sheep, cattle, buffalo, or swine.

Someone convicted five or more times of any theft offense faces a 10-year felony sentence.

If you were accused of shoplifting or another theft offense, Just Criminal Law can help. Our criminal defense team will carefully investigate the charges against you and prepare an aggressive defense to minimize the likelihood of a conviction and the penalties you could face.

Examples of Shoplifting

Shoplifting can occur in various ways. Your small child could have placed an item in your bag while you weren’t looking. Maybe you forgot about the bag of cat litter on the bottom of your cart. Or you absent-mindedly placed an item in your pocket and forgot about it.

Other activities that can lead to shoplifting charges include:

  • Switching or altering price tags
  • Placing a higher-priced item in the box of a lower-priced item
  • Eating food in the store and not paying for it at checkout
  • Refund fraud (trying to return stolen items for cash or gift cards)
  • Using an illegal form of payment

Regardless of the circumstances that led to the shoplifting charges, you need an aggressive defense. Just Criminal Law can help.

How to Combat Wyoming Shoplifting Charges

At first, defending against shoplifting charges may seem impossible. You had the merchandise on your person when you were arrested. The police claim they have video of you stealing items from a store. You may have been accused of trying to return stolen items for gift cards at another store.

But remember—the prosecution has the burden of proof, and you are innocent until proven guilty. Our criminal defense team can defend you against shoplifting charges and fight to minimize the likelihood of a conviction and the penalties you could face. Let our criminal defense team evaluate your situation and identify the defenses that will be most effective in your case.

Lack of Intent

To prove a case of shoplifting, the prosecutor must prove you intended to steal or pay less than the proper amount for an item. Our team can defend you by arguing you did not intend to steal the item(s) or that the alleged theft was accidental.

Mistaken Identity

When the prosecutor’s case relies on a surveillance video with poor resolution or photos that only show part of a person’s face, our criminal defense team may be able to create reasonable doubt that the prosecutor is charging the right person with the crime. Even eyewitness testimony can be vulnerable to cases of mistaken identity.

Self-Checkout Errors

Self-checkout machines are becoming increasingly popular. But when a customer makes an honest mistake or there is an error with the machine, the store may have contacted the police, and the customer could be charged with shoplifting.

There are countless reasons a mistake can occur in the self-checkout lane. If you are facing shoplifting charges because of a mistake or a faulty self-checkout machine, lack of intent is often a defense.

What To Do If You Were Charged with Shoplifting

Shoplifting charges are serious, but our experienced criminal defense team can fight to reduce the severity of the charges or the seriousness of the penalties, or avoid a conviction altogether.

To give yourself the best chance of beating a shoplifting charge:

  • Do not discuss the charges with the police, the store’s loss prevention officers, or anyone other than your lawyer.
  • Do not try to return the property or pay restitution until you have discussed the case with your attorney and they tell you to do so.
  • Do not return to the store until your lawyer tells you it is okay to do so.
  • Write a letter to your lawyer describing the details of the incident.
  • Keep any documents you receive related to the shoplifting charges.

Contact Just Criminal Law for Aggressive Defense Against Shoplifting and Other Theft Charges

If you were charged with shoplifting or another theft offense, you should contact Just Criminal Law as soon as possible. Shoplifting may seem like a minor offense, but a conviction could significantly impact your future. Our criminal defense team will evaluate your situation, develop a comprehensive defense strategy, and fight the shoplifting charges.

Our criminal defense team has decades of experience defending people accused of shoplifting and other crimes. To learn more and begin preparing your defense, contact us today to schedule your personalized case review and strategy session.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.