Building a Defense in a Columbia Shoplifting Case
Shoplifting charges sound minor, but they can actually be quite serious and carry severe consequences. When an individual in Columbia is faced with shoplifting charges, it is important for them to consult with a Columbia shoplifting attorney in order to start building a strong defense and working towards dismissing or mitigating the consequences of their charge.
Shoplifting lawyers use strategies specifically associated with shoplifting; but first they make sure that the client was properly charged. If there are mistakes in the way the charge was enumerated by police officers or other agents of the state, there may be motions to dismiss based on those flawed charging documents.
Additionally, there are arguments made on behalf of the client as to the admissibility of certain pieces of evidence such as surveillance videos and the records of the business that alleged the shoplifting. The lack of authenticity is an argument that defense attorneys make to keep those records out of evidence. Those are the primary strategies that are employed in a shoplifting case.
In order for the prosecution to prove the shoplifting charges, a prosecutor must prove that a person actually took something from an establishment with the intention to permanently deprive that establishment of that item without the establishment’s consent.
Probation and Reduced Sentencing Options
A person may have their charges completely dismissed or reduced by way of diversion in most counties in Maryland, particularly in Columbia. Diversion is an opportunity for a person to participate in a community service program in exchange for a dismissal of the charges against them. This is something that is available only to first time offenders, not usually second time or subsequent offenders. It is an option for having the matter completely dismissed and usually only applies to first offenders with misdemeanor cases, not felonies.
Additionally, a person could potentially have their matter deferred to complete probation instead of jail time if this is their first offense and if diversion is not an option. Even if it is their second or third offense, the defense attorney can make a compelling argument to the court as to why a period of actual incarceration is not appropriate.
Consequences for a Second Offense in Columbia
Second time offenders may face the same maximum penalties for shoplifting offenses as first time offenders. However, based on the fact that they are second time offenders, the practical sentence the judge may impose is much more serious than for first time offenders.
First time offenders are often able to have their charges dismissed or expunged because they are first time offenders, if they are able to demonstrate that the incident was isolated. Second time offenders lose the opportunity to argue that this was an isolated event they are facing the same charge for the second time. It is that inability to make that argument that could result in executed periods of incarceration that they must serve as punishment for committing.
Initially, Columbia judges may be more inclined to look into the reasoning behind a person shoplifting. It may be drug motivated or motivated in some other way that might require special treatment or special attention from parole or probation officers, and that is taken into consideration by the courts.