In Alabama, shoplifting is one of the crimes people are most commonly accused of and can either result in a felony offense or a misdemeanor level charge depending upon the value of the property taken.
It is not necessarily considered a minor offense if you’re accused of shoplifting in Alabama. Even at a misdemeanor level, if you are convicted of shoplifting, you may face up to a year of imprisonment and thousands of dollars in fines.
Alleged shoplifters may also face civil lawsuits to recover the cost of the merchandise or property taken from the merchant or person and extra costs. Should you face shoplifting charges in Alabama, an experienced criminal attorney knows the best strategies for fighting these charges and protecting your rights and freedom. Below we will cover the dos and don’ts of what you should do if you’re accused of shoplifting in Alabama.
Top Things To Avoid Doing When Accused Of Shoplifting In Alabama
If you are being accused of a crime such as shoplifting, it is imperative to know what to do and what not to do to ensure you don’t damage your own case.
#1. Don’t Argue or Get Physical
If you’re on your way out the door when a store employee stops you and you know it’s a mistake, you can show them your receipt and be on your way. However, if they force you to stay, don’t argue or resist, it will only worsen matters. Avoid getting into any physical altercation with store employees or security guards, as it may result in injury, and then you’ll end up facing charges of assault. Remaining calm is essential.
#2. Don’t Explain
It’s best not to say anything to store employees if you are being held and accused of shoplifting. If you try to explain yourself, they might not believe you, and you may end up saying something that could be used against you.
#3. Don’t Offer To Pay
Whether you made an innocent mistake or not, offering to pay at this point will make it look like you were trying to get out of it after getting caught. Of course, you could offer to return the item, but offering to pay will only make you look more guilty in their eyes.
#4. Don’t Share Personal Information
Please don’t be rude; however, you are not required to give store employees any personal information, including your name, address, phone number, or other information, as they are not police officers. However, if an on-duty police officer identifies themself, you must identify yourself to the police officer. Other than that, it’s best not to say anything else when being accused of shoplifting to avoid further incriminating yourself. At this point, it’s best to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you.
#5. Never Sign Anything
Whatever they say, don’t sign any papers about the shoplifting accusations, and they are not allowed to force you to do so as they have no legal authority to do so.
#6. Request To See Your Lawyer
Once they question you, it’s time to request to call your lawyer. Avoid arguing or answering the question when they ask why you need one if you’re not guilty. Repeat your request for a criminal defense lawyer, and you are not obligated to explain yourself.
#7. Tell Them To Release You
If they are holding you in their office and refusing to allow you to leave and renew your demand for a criminal defense attorney; otherwise, they need to let you go immediately.
#8. Don’t Answer Any Questions
At the store, employees continue to question you and refuse to release you, do not answer any of the questions, and demand a criminal defense attorney.
#9. Never Admit To Anything
If the loss prevention department or manager comes in and tells you that they have conclusive evidence and you should just admit guilt to the shoplifting accusation, it is a trick. They will not need you to admit your guilt if their evidence is conclusive.
#10. They Will Tell You Not To Return
You must heed this warning because if you return to the store and are caught, you can be arrested for criminal trespass resulting in a jail sentence.
Penalties For Shoplifting
Depending upon the value of the property involved in the theft Alabama has four different statutes, and only one of the four is treated as a misdemeanor.
Misdemeanor charges for property theft valued less than $500 is a class A misdemeanor offense and have a penalty of one year in county jail and fines of up to $6,000.
Felony shoplifting offenses range from first, second, and third degree.
- The Third-degree is for property valued between $500 and $1,500 and is a class D felony. Penalties include one to five years in prison and fines of up to $7,500
- The Second-degree is for property valued between $1,500 and $2,500 and is a class C felony. However, various property types are also treated as second-degree offenses, even if the property’s value is less than $1,500, including controlled substances, livestock, and firearms. Penalties include 1 to 10 years in prison and fines up to $15,000
- The First-degree is for property valued over $2500 and is a class B felony. Penalties include facing up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $30,000
The Best Action To Take When Accused of Shoplifting In Alabama
If you find yourself being accused of shoplifting or theft, the first thing to do is request to speak with your lawyer. If you don’t have an attorney, it’s essential to hire a criminal defense attorney experienced in defending people against shoplifting charges that can help you. Your attorney can examine all the evidence, including video surveillance footage and witness statements, to build a robust defense should your case go to trial to defend your rights and your freedom.
When You Need An Attorney, Brackin Law Firm Is Here For You
If you are facing shoplifting charges, you need a criminal defense attorney who will fight for your rights and freedom with the experience and knowledge of the criminal justice process.
At Brackin Law Firm, we are here to help you and have over 35 years of extensive experience representing Baldwin County residents. We are here to ensure you receive the best representation possible when facing shoplifting charges, a DUI, divorce, family law matters, Estate planning, and more. Contact us for a consultation, and we will start representing you today!