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Can you be charged with shoplifting without the goods?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2021 | Criminal defense |

If you walk out of a store with clothes stuffed under your hoodie, you would not be surprised if store security stops you and the police charge you with shoplifting. If, however, the police knock at your door and charge you with shoplifting, that might come as a shock.

You might assume that not having any stolen clothes in your possession would be the end of the matter. Yet, that is not always the case. The police and prosecutors can use a wide variety of means to try and show that you have committed a crime.

Understanding the evidence is crucial to fight a criminal charge

Here are some ways a store owner or the police may seek to blame you for missing goods:

  • In-store cameras: Cameras are everywhere, and you could be accused based on evidence from a camera in the store, the mall or somewhere on the street. Yet, the poor quality can make people viewing the footage confuse you with someone else. They might also have pieced together information from different cameras to create an inaccurate story.
  • Eyewitness accounts: Store staff may have given the police your description because they saw you near the dress and think you stole it. They might not have noticed the actual thief. Alternatively, they may have seen the suspect but described them poorly, or you might be similar in appearance to the person they saw.
  • Having stolen goods: Even if the police did find the stolen item in your house or vehicle, that does not prove you stole it. Someone else may have stashed it there without your knowledge.

An arrest for a false shoplifting accusation can be harmful enough without the even worse consequences of a criminal conviction. Understanding your defense options will be crucial.