I’ve been charged with larceny or shoplifting- what should I do?

          A larceny or shoplifting conviction can have a big impact on your life.  Anything from employment opportunities to housing applications can be adversely affected by a conviction to a theft crime.  These charges can also result in you being trespassed from certain stores or entire shopping centers, causing you to have avoid shopping in those areas for several years.  Because of these and other collateral consequences, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if you have been charged with a theft crime.

            The difference between shoplifting and larceny is more a matter of time than a matter of intent.  Put simply, you can be charged with shoplifting even if all you do is conceal merchandise in the store in a bag or under your clothes.  Larceny generally requires that you pass the point of sale such as the cash register on the way out the door, showing intent to permanently deprive the property owner of their property without paying.

            If you have been charged with either of these crimes, it can be difficult to know what to do first.  Contacting the Criminal Defense Team at Hatch, Little & Bunn can set you on the right path to putting this charge behind you.  One of the questions that comes up in many cases where a retailer such as Wal-Mart is involved is whether you should pay the civil fine or not.  After you are charged with one of these crimes, you may receive a notice in the mail demanding that you pay a fine pursuant to your charge.  Whether or not you should pay this fine can be a tricky question depending on the facts of your case.  An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you decide whether it is in your best interest to pay the fine or decline to do so and save yourself hundreds of dollars.

            Another important factor to consider in your case is who and what the State needs to prove your case against you.  If the alleged victim is an individual, the State will likely need that person to testify under oath in order to prove that they are the owner of the property in questions.  If the alleged victim is a retailer or store, the State may need the Loss Prevention Officer from the store.  This person is in charge of stopping theft in the store and may be necessary to prove that the property in question belongs to the store and wasn’t just the shirt that you wore in to the store.  They may also be necessary to provide any video evidence that may pertain to your case.  The charging police officer may also be necessary to provide any testimony about an admission of guilt given to the officer.

            You prior record is another important factor to consider in your case.  Your record may allow you certain deferral options that may lead to a dismissal of your case.  In contrast, more prior convictions may lead to a harsher sentence or the State asking for supervised probation.

            There are many factors and moving pieces to consider when you are charged with a theft crime such as shoplifting or larceny.  Some of these factors need to be addressed sooner rather than later in order to make sure that you are fully protected from the very beginning.  If you have been charged with a theft crime, call an experienced Raleigh larceny defense attorney from the Hatch, Little & Bunn Criminal Litigation Team today so that we can begin protecting you and ensuring that you get the best possible outcome.


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