In order to be convicted of shoplifting charges in Atlanta, the prosecutor must prove that the person, whether they were alone or with other people, had the intent to appropriate the merchandise for their own use without paying for it or they otherwise intended to deprive the store of possession or value of that item in whole or in part. The individual also had to conceal, alter, or change the price tag, change containers from one to another, or wrongfully cause the amount to be paid to be less. The prosecutor must prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt which is an incredibly high standard to prove.
In order to avoid this standard, there are a number of different steps an Atlanta shoplifting lawyer can take ranging from an initial investigation to demonstrating in court how all the elements of the offense were not present. Therefore if you have been accused of shoplifting or another similar offense, it is in your best interest to call and schedule a consultation today.
The first steps an attorney in Atlanta will take is an investigation which involves: speaking with the client, reviewing witness statements and reports, and reviewing police reports and statements. The lawyer may call the loss prevention officer from the store and speak with them about any potential issues or errors that may have been made in the citation or arrest of the client. However, the first step is always going to be to meet with the client, explain the situation and the view point of the defense lawyer, and educate the client on what could be done to protect them now and prevent something like this from happening again in the future.
An attorney will collect reports, statements from witnesses, and interviews with the client to determine if there is an intent or lack of intent defense, to determine if they can create a reasonable doubt built around the idea that the client did not intend to deprive the store of its property and did not pay, or the client did not intend to alter the tag or change the containers which is an intent in theft cases, especially shoplifting. Perhaps it can be reasonably explained that the client forgot to pay for a particular item. So it is key to have an experienced attorney who is successful in using the strategy in preparing a defense in a shoplifting case in Atlanta.
The most common reduced sentence option available in shoplifting charge is the pre-trial diversion program. Most of the courts in Atlanta area offer the pre-trial diversion program and sometimes specifically shoplifting focused pre-trial diversion programs as a way to resolve a person’s charge without a conviction and without shoplifting charge going on their criminal records. It is important to speak with an attorney who knows the courtroom that the person was charged in and whether or not that will be available to them to resolve their cases.
In more serious cases for repeated offenders, jail is rare for a first or second conviction for shoplifting when diversion is not on the table. Most often, punishment may include a period of probation, a class of four hours about value education and why shoplifting is wrong, some small fine, and sometimes community service. However, community services are not often seen for shoplifting convictions. Value-based education courses have really been the most common form of punishment along with a fine in Atlanta shoplifting cases in the recent past.