Shoplifting at Belk
Were you recently arrested for shoplifting at Belk? Have you received a summons to appear in court? At times like this, it’s important to know your rights and to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Being caught shoplifting is a scary experience. Often it involves aggressive store security and police officers. These people may try and pressurize you into confessing your mistake.
Once you get to court, the prosecutor may also try and intimidate you. By using a heavy-handed approach they may attempt to persuade you that your conviction is inevitable. This usually results in the prosecutor suggesting you accept a plea deal.
If you’re wondering what to do after your arrest for shoplifting, you’re at the right place. This article will explain everything you need to know relating to a shoplifting charge in Louisiana. It will also clarify how a criminal defense law firm can help defend your rights.
What Are the Penalties for Shoplifting in Louisiana?
If you’re caught stealing merchandise from a store in Baton Rouge, Livingston, or any other town in Louisiana you could face criminal and civil penalties. Criminal penalties involve paying a fine or serving time in jail. Civil penalties require you to pay the merchant for the full value of the goods, as well as an additional fine.
You face charges with criminal penalties if you have done any of the following things:
- Concealed an item in your bag or clothing
- Changed the packaging of an item
- Removed or altered a price tag
In Louisiana, the penalty depends on the value of the goods that you have taken from the store. If the value is less than $1,000 then the offense is a misdemeanor. For any value over $1,000 the offense is a felony.
The penalties involved with these State Laws are as follows:
- If the value of the goods is less than $1,000 then your sentence could be up to six months of jail time, a $1,000 fine, or both.
- If the value of the goods is between $1,000 and $5,000 then your sentence could be up to five years of jail time, a $3,000 fine, or both.
- If the value of the goods is between $5,000 and $25,000 then your sentence could be up to ten years of jail time, a $10,000 fine, or both.
- If the value of the good is above $25,000 then your sentence could be up to 20 years of jail time, a $50,000 fine, or both.
All the above sentences may include hard labor, depending on the case. In situations where the offender has a previous conviction of theft less than $1,000 the sentence is two years jail time, a $2,000 fine, or both.
What Is the Court Process for Shoplifting?
After a shoplifting arrest, the next step is for the state prosecutor to press charges. If the charge is a misdemeanor you will receive your summons to appear in court through the mail. You need to appear in court on the given date to avoid having a warrant for your arrest issued.
For felony charges, an arrest warrant is often issued with the charges. Either way, you will need to appear in court for the arraignment. This is where you will hear what charges you face and have the opportunity to plead.
Most offenders will not choose to plead guilty unless they have a plea deal. If you are considering accepting a plea deal it is important to first consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. They will access your case and advise you on the best options.
The next stage is the discovery process where your lawyer will investigate the case. After this process, your case is assigned a date for trial. During the trial, the judge and jury will hear the evidence from the state prosecutor and your defense attorney. They will then decide whether to acquit you or find you guilty.
Can My Shoplifting Charges Be Dismissed?
In some cases, it is possible to have your charges dismissed. You will need a lawyer that specializes in shoplifting cases to negotiate this for you.
Your lawyer can identify any possible opportunities that could lead to the dismissal of your case. There are various reasons why a case is dropped. This includes situations where store owners decide to drop the charges, provided you return the items.
Another situation that can lead to dismissal is if the police have searched you without a warrant. When this happens, the evidence they found during the search may be inadmissible in court.
Having your charges dismissed is unlikely unless there are exceptional circumstances. In many cases, a plea agreement is the best way to reduce your sentence or fine. Some plea agreements even allow for you to avoid having a criminal charge on your record.
How Can a Lawyer Defend My Shoplifting Charge?
Before a conviction, the prosecutor needs to prove that you are guilty. The most important aspect they must prove is that you had the intent to conceal and take the item from the store.
If your lawyer can show that you did not have a deliberate intent to shoplift the item, then the charges are invalid. This can easily happen when you are trying on clothes and accidentally forget to return an item. Even if you believe you’re innocent it is still a good idea to hire a lawyer.
Many situations can lead to you accidentally removing an item from a store. Your lawyer can argue for dismissal as long as you did not have the intent to conceal or shoplift the item.
Do You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Shoplifting is a serious charge that can result in a large fine and lengthy jail sentence. You also face the possibility of a lifelong criminal record.
If you have been arrested or received a summons for shoplifting you need a criminal defense lawyer. They will help you through each step of the process and represent you in court.
With over 17 years of criminal defense experience, Carl Barkemeyer is one of the best defense lawyers in Louisiana.
You can contact our shoplifting lawyers anytime, including weekends, from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.