How should I approach an alleged shoplifting offense? 2 Answers as of June 16, 2011If I was accused of shoplifting an item under $10.00 can the in store loss prevention, add other items that I did not have on my person when they stopped me to increase the amount, and say they saw me take it sometime more than a week ago.
Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
First off, do not make any statements or admissions to anyone. Too many people end up in jail or prison because they want their side of the story to be heard. Save it for your pastor or priest. Secondly, have you been charged at this point? If so , have you been notified of a court date? If not, the matter is still under investigation or awaiting a prosecutor's charging decision. The Statute of Limitations in Washington for theft 3 is one year. If a year has passed with no charges, it may mean you are off the hook or that you have been charged and the court has issued an arrest warrant because you have failed to appear. It is important for the court and the prosecutor's office or the police to have good contact information so that you can be informed of the charging decision and receive your court dates. Beyond that, shoplifting is a misdemeanor as long as you have only taken a minor amount of merchandise. Theft three is that misdemeanor and while it can carry a year in jail and a five thousand dollar fine, many courts offer diversion as a way to avoid a criminal conviction. With diversion, you waive your speedy trial right for 18 months; sign a confession and agree that the court can review the police report for a finding of guilty in the event that you fail to complete the requirements of diversion within a year of you entry into diversion. Conditions for diversion may include drug testing, alcohol evaluations and treatment, your completion of a petty theft class and no new criminal law violations. As long as you fulfill the requirements of diversion and remain law-abiding, the court will dismiss the case against you and you will not be found guilty or end up with a criminal record. If the court offers this opportunity to you, you should seriously consider it. Ultimately, you need to hire or obtain an attorney to review the police report with you and obtain legal advice before doing anything else. There may be other options for you apart from diversion but your attorney will need to read the police report and speak to witnesses before the lawyer can give you complete advice.
Answer Applies to: Washington