When you are accused of taking merchandise from a store or other place of business in Norwalk CT, it’s frequently called shoplifting. However, in Connecticut, there isn’t a law that specifically makes shoplifting a criminal offense. Charges for stealing or concealing merchandise from a department store, grocery store, or hardware shop are initiated under Connecticut’s statutes for theft and larceny.
Most often, shoplifting falls under Connecticut’s statute on larceny in the sixth degree, which is also referred to as petty theft or petty in other states. Larceny in the sixth degree is the theft of any product or service that is valued at $500 or less. As a type of larceny in Connecticut, shoplifting can be defended under many of the strategies and arguments as other theft offenses.
Keep reading, as our team at the Law Offices of Alexander Schwartz covers three different arguments against shoplifting that a Norwalk CT criminal lawyer could use in your defense.
One element of shoplifting and other larceny charges is that you must knowingly take or exhibit control over property that doesn’t belong to you. A prosecutor must provide evidence that you knew or had reason to know that the merchandise wasn’t yours. Alternatively, a Norwalk CT criminal lawyer tries to show that you had a good faith belief that the merchandise was yours.
Here is an example of this defense. You are accused of stealing a jean jacket from a department store. You tell the store’s employees and security that you thought the jacket thrown over your arm was one you already bought and paid for. The jacket you took does look exactly like the one you own at home, and it is even the same brand. However, you didn’t wear your jean jacket to the department store that day.
A Norwalk CT criminal lawyer can make an argument, through evidence of your ownership of a similar jean jacket and then showing this jean jacket to the court. This is enough to show that you didn’t have the requisite intent to shoplift the jacket.
Another common defense rests on the same intent requirements of shoplifting and larceny in Connecticut. Remember you must knowingly take or exert control over the property of another person or store. If you placed a pair of sunglasses on your head and tried to exit the store, there is a good argument to be made that you didn’t act knowingly.
In this instance, a Norwalk CT criminal lawyer doesn’t argue mistake of ownership or good faith belief in ownership, the argument is you didn’t remember you had control or possession of the merchandise. For example, you tried on the sunglasses, forgot about them, and then tried to leave the store.
The argument that you intended to return the property is a more difficult argument for a Norwalk CT criminal lawyer to make in your defense. Why is this a less impactful argument? You can’t show that you certainly or definitely intended to take the property back to a store or shop, just make the argument that you intended to do so.
For instance, a Norwalk CT criminal lawyer could argue that you only took the property to show a friend or because it was in your hand as you chased a child out the door. Once the immediate situation was resolved, you intended to return and pay. Under some circumstances, this defense may not result in an acquittal of the charges, but could still build sympathy with a judge or jury. This sympathy can go a long way during the sentencing phase of a trial.
Shoplifting might seem like a minor theft offense in Connecticut, but if you are charged with shoplifting you should seek legal advice from a Norwalk CT criminal lawyer. An experienced criminal lawyer can do more than just make these arguments in your defense. A lawyer will also handle communication with the court, negotiate with the prosecutor, you comply with criminal procedure, and ensure all of your rights are protected.
Our team at the Law Offices of Alexander Schwartz can be the Norwalk CT defense you need. If you want to overcome shoplifting charges, contact our local office at (203) 255-9829.
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