The hectic nature of a busy store creates confusion, if not outright forgetfulness. Shopping with children can become chaotic during holiday seasons and when school is about to start. Paying for your items seems routine until you are confronted by store security.
An item hidden in a corner or lower part of a shopping cart has led to you being detained and arrested for shoplifting. Stores are aggressive in recruitment of equally aggressive security officers. Their goal is to discourage crimes, resulting in those supposedly caught for “shoplifting” becoming examples to others. This situation requires help from an Orlando shoplifting lawyer.
If you’ve been arrested for shoplifting, you know it’s a serious crime of dishonesty. You’ve got to make sure it’s handled the correct way because the consequences of a shoplifting arrest can affect you for the rest of your life in terms of school, employment, scholarships and many other factors. It is also important to note that there are many cases of people being arrested for shoplifting but not charged. Even still, securing legal counsel is in a person’s best interest to make sure that their rights are not violated.
If you’re a student, you want to make sure you consult with a skilled theft attorney before making any decisions. A shoplifting charge does not necessarily have to be a petty theft like many people may perceive. You might even be charged with something more serious, like a grand theft.
There are different levels of shoplifting:
When you’re charged with shoplifting, the store or merchant will give you a letter in person of the time of the alleged offense, or he or she will mail you a letter stating that you need to pay what’s called the civil penalty.
The store will sometimes use a collection company, or a law firm on its behalf, to send you this letter. The amount it wants to collect is different, depending on how much it is alleged that you took: it could be as low as $200, or as high as over $1,000. The law allows a merchant to try to collect the civil penalty if you’re charged with theft; however, you should be aware that if you choose to pay this civil penalty, it does not stop the prosecutor’s office of the state of Florida from prosecuting you for a criminal charge. These are two separate things.
However, before you make a decision to pay the civil penalty, you should consult with an Orlando shoplifting lawyer. Payment of a civil penalty could constitute an admission of guilt, even if you feel like you’re not guilty, and you haven’t done anything wrong. The payment of that civil penalty may also be used against you in the criminal court. However, if your attorney and you discuss that you want to enter into a plea agreement, or you want to get into a diversion program, obviously payment of that civil penalty could be in your best interest.
If you’ve never been in trouble before and you’ve been charged with shoplifting, your attorney maybe able to get you what’s called a diversion program. A diversion program diverts you from the court system. Your attorney will enter a plea of not guilty for you, and you will sign an agreement with the prosecutor’s office stating that you will complete certain conditions, such as maybe taking a theft class, doing some community service hours or paying money to be in the program.
Once you complete those types of conditions, then the charges will be dropped against you. If you’ve been charged with shoplifting, you want to see if you’re eligible for that program. Once the charges are dropped, then you can discuss with your attorney whether or not you’re eligible for an expungement.
At The Umansky Law Firm, our Orlando shoplifting lawyers provide aggressive representation for our clients charged with shoplifting. We also assert their rights, starting with their right to remain silent before a mall security guard or police officer. As in any theft-related case, we strive to minimize the consequences. First-offender programs offer the chance for charges to be dismissed in pretrial diversion. Completing those conditions can result in the charges being dropped and your record expunged with the help of a shoplifting attorney. However, a trial before a jury remains an option if that can provide the best outcome.
We are former prosecutors protecting the rights of the wrongfully accused. Our experienced lawyers are standing by to help you go over your shoplifting case. To schedule a free initial consultation with an Orlando shoplifting lawyer at The Umansky Law Firm, contact our office online.
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