Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to get away with shoplifting. Shopping centers all across the country have installed security cameras and surveillance equipment not only inside their stores, but also in their parking lots.
Even if you somehow make it out with merchandise, you will almost surely be caught on camera outside by your car and arrested a few days later. If you or a loved one was charged with shoplifting, you need to know exactly what the prosecutor can use to incriminate you.
Evidence Prosecutors Will Use Against You
Photos and Videos from Security Cameras
Whether you see them or not, they are there. If you look up toward the ceiling in any department store, grocery, shopping mall, or convenience store, you are bound to find security cameras. These cameras usually can zoom in when necessary and images can be magnified in order to prove that the person who stole from the store was you.
Sometimes the image or video footage is grainy, blurry, or does not show your face. If any of these three occur, you may be able to argue that the individual on camera is not truly you. However, be aware that this will not work if you were wearing very distinct clothing, had a visible tattoo that was unique, or were the only one who was in the store during that period of time.
A jury will find eye-witness testimony very convincing. If the witness can testify that he saw you walk out of the store carrying the object at issue, a jury will usually consider this quite persuasive.
Take solace. A skilled criminal defense attorney can show a jury exactly how flawed an eye-witness account may have been. Sometimes, a witness may only see you out of the corner of his eye. Most other times they have no genuine knowledge of whether you paid for the item or not. Also, if they are not wearing their glasses, then their credibility will severely diminish in the eyes of the jury.
Testimony From Security Guards & Loss Prevention Staff
If you are caught by the store’s security staff, their testimony can be used in court. Additionally, anything they personally see they can generally testify about. In other words, they can explain at your trial that you were caught red-handed holding the goods and walking outside the store without paying for them.
In the same way that the eyewitness testimony of other shoppers or employees can be discredited, the same defenses can be used to attack a security guard’s credibility. Also, depending on the situation, they may be biased against you. Hiring a good criminal defense attorney will help you turn the prosecutor’s case on its head while leaving enough doubt in the minds of the jury to prevent them from convicting you.
Your Own Words & Admissions
The words we say can really come back to haunt us. Remember, admissions of guilt almost always will be admissible at trial. Be careful! Do not think that saying, “I’m sorry” to the shopkeeper who catches you will absolve you of punishment. In reality, “I’m sorry” may be considered an admission of guilt that can be used against you. After all, if you did not do the crime, what would you be sorry about?
Oftentimes, the words you say are twisted around by the prosecution to make you look bad. A good criminal defense attorney knows how to present the words that are used against you in a way that accurately presents what you really said or meant while helping you win your case.
To learn more about what might happen in a shoplifting case, and what the penalties are in your state, see Petty Theft and Shoplifting Laws.