Contacting a Shoplifting Attorney in Annapolis
An Annapolis shoplifting attorney should be contacted immediately upon being charged with shoplifting. Time is of the essence. Often, defense attorneys file a request for certain documents or other information from the government or from the store owners that might be wiped clean within 30 or 60 days, if this is not requested to be preserved at a particular time.
Prosecutors and police officers do not always preserve this evidence, especially when it could be helpful for the defense. A defense attorney must make sure that they take the appropriate steps to preserve the evidence. Talking to an attorney immediately ensures that those steps are taken because they are important to the case.
Unique Aspects of Shoplifting Defenses
Shoplifting differs from other theft-related offenses because a shoplifting case is a criminal case that involves the taking of items from a retail establishment. Regular theft cases do not necessarily involve retail; they may involve any establishment, another person, or any entity that can be stolen from. The charges fall under Md. Crim. Law § 7-104. The consequences are the same whether the case is a theft case involving shoplifting or some other kind of theft.
Shoplifting defenses are more difficult than other theft-related offenses and cases. In a standard theft case, defenses might involve the character of the people who are complaining about the theft. For example, a theft between two people who might have had a previous relationship, or are friends with each other might raise a defense of bias, claiming that one person might be fabricating a story about another person.
Usually, shoplifting cases do not come with those same kinds of defenses because shopkeepers do not have that same kind of bias. A large retail operation, for example, would not have a reason to make up an allegation about shoplifting against one of the customers who was coming into their store. Their credibility is not necessarily an issue in the same way as it might be between two private citizens.
Benefits of an Attorney
Having an attorney by your side helps you identify the issues in a criminal case that the prosecution is trying to move forward with and helps identify issues with the admissibility of evidence in a shoplifting case.
Shoplifting cases are not difficult for the government to prove if they have all of the information properly authenticated that can be admitted into evidence. Usually, a surveillance that shows the individual walking into a store, taking items, and walking out without paying for them is not a case that has a viable defense; other than keeping the video surveillance tape out of evidence because of a number of different issues. Lack of admissibility of a video tape because it is not properly authenticated according to rules of evidence could be the way that a defense attorney can assist their client with a shoplifting case.
Role at the Arraignment
An attorney enters a plea of not guilty on behalf of their client and files any request for proper discovery at their client’s arraignment. Generally, as a rule, a not guilty plea is entered at an arraignment because the case is in its initial stage, when a defense attorney has not yet had an opportunity to fully discover all of the information to properly defend their client in criminal court.
Once that information is properly discovered, conversations with the prosecution take place about dismissal of charges, or reduction of charges in plea negotiations of some kind. But usually at an arraignment, it is too early to know the answers to those types of questions and a plea of not guilty is entered as a default at that stage of the case.
Importance of Local Experience
Local attorneys in Annapolis are extremely helpful in identifying the parties involved in a particular case. For example, a local attorney has an understanding of the temperament of all of the judges and knows which judges are particularly offended by shoplifting cases. Additionally, defense attorneys know what kinds of arguments are more receptive in a bench trial with a judge making decisions versus that of a jury trial which can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Hiring a defense attorney who has the knowledge of jurisdiction and the parties involved is an extremely important part of having proper representation.