You were walking through a store when the clerk approached you. He asks if he can have the item he believes you stashed in your pocket. Confused, you say no, because you didn’t take anything.
Now, he’s asking that you stay where you are while he calls security. You don’t leave, because you know this is a misunderstanding. Moments later, you’re being told that a camera saw you take something and that the police are being called. You empty your pockets to find a small item you don’t recall picking up.
Is this a case of shoplifting?
To challenge a shoplifting charge, you can argue that you did not intentionally conceal or possess an item that was offered for sale. Additionally, you can argue that you didn’t have the intent to deprive the store of the item without paying for it.
In your case, if you were picking up items and just put one in your bag or pocket while you were thinking about something else, that wouldn’t be the same as intentionally stealing an item.
Can the accusations be dropped if you return the item?
Some business owners will drop charges or allow you to leave if you’re willing to return the item before you leave the store. Others have a policy to prosecute all shoplifting crimes, whether or not you offer to give back the item.
Fortunately, your attorney can help negotiate a deal with the prosecutor. The deal may allow for the shoplifting charge to be dropped completely and could allow for the conviction or arrest to be expunged from your record. Even better, if you talk to your attorney early enough, you may be able to convince the store owner not to prosecute, which means you can keep a misunderstanding from becoming a conviction on your record.