Maybe it was a simple mistake or misunderstanding. Maybe you didn’t even do it. In any case, you’ve been charged with shoplifting, and you’re scrambling to find out how to get shoplifting charges dropped. Let’s put one of your concerns to rest right now. It is possible to get shoplifting charges dropped in Washington state.
The problem, however, is that you have to truly understand your charge and craft a solid defense if you want a shot at beating this charge. That’s what this blog post is going to help you with. Read on to learn more about how to beat a shoplifting charge, or contact Will & Will to start building your defense today.
What Is Shoplifting in Washington State?
Washington state has a somewhat different approach to shoplifting charges than other states. That is, there’s no specific criminal charge called “shoplifting.” It is still a crime to shoplift in Washington. But you will be charged with a degree of theft, not shoplifting.
More specifically, under Revised Code of Washington, Section 9A.56.050, you will most likely be charged with theft in the third degree – if the value of the items you’re accused of stealing is less than $750.
This charge, sometimes called “petty theft” in other states, is considered a gross misdemeanor. If you’re convicted, you could face up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000, according to Revised Code of Washington, Section 9.92.020. Keep in mind that theft of items more valuable than $750 can get you charged with a felony (theft in the second degree or theft in the first degree), which come with much more severe punishments.
That’s a lot of time and money on the line — not to mention the mark on your criminal record. The severe penalties for this charge cause hundreds of Washington state residents to ask their attorneys how to get shoplifting charges dropped every year.
How to Get Shoplifting Charges Dropped: Next Steps
If you’re wondering how to beat a shoplifting charge, you’re in the right place. Below, we discuss what you need to know about the charge you’re up against and how to beat it.
What Happens to a First-Time Shoplifter
Is this your first time being charged with theft? If so, you need to know that, in some cases, what happens to a first-time shoplifter is different from what happens to a repeat offender. That’s thanks to the possibility of negotiating different agreements with the prosecutor and deferred sentencing.
What Happens if You Have Previous Charges
If you have previous charges, deferred sentencing and similar options may be possible, but they are often less likely than if this was your first time.
In addition to the criminal penalties you may face, you may also face some civil penalties. For retail theft, the business may be able to take civil action against you. In other words, they may be able to sue you for shoplifting from them.
How to Beat a Shoplifting Charge
Whether this is your first shoplifting charge or your fifth, you still need to know how to get shoplifting charges dropped.
If you were first approached by loss prevention or security from the store that stopped you, you might have made a statement to them that will then be provided to the police and the prosecutor.
While there is no guaranteed way to get a criminal charge dropped, you can take some steps to increase your chances:
- Call a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
- Do not speak to the police without your lawyer present.
- Think about the evidence that could help you fight your charge, and bring anything you can think of to your lawyer’s attention.
- Develop a strong legal defense to your shoplifting charge.
Ultimately, your defense will likely be key in your fight to beat your shoplifting charge. We’ll take a deeper look at defenses to theft charges below.
Defenses Your Criminal Defense Lawyer May Use
Every case is unique, so every defense must also be unique. However, there are some common types of defenses that your lawyer may use to help you get your shoplifting charge dropped:
- You did not realize you were carrying merchandise when you left the store.
- You believed that you had paid for the items you’re accused of stealing.
- You went to a different location in the store but did not attempt to leave the store.
- A witness has mistaken you for someone else who actually committed the crime.
Your lawyer will examine the details of your case before developing a defense tailored to your unique situation.
As you consider your defense options, remember that you have to prove what you’re saying. That’s why working with a lawyer is so important. Your attorney will know how to build a bulletproof defense that gives you a shot at beating this charge.
Shoplifting Charge? Call Will & WIll
If you feel like you’re in a serious situation, you’re not wrong. Shoplifting is a serious charge with severe penalties. But you can prevent more damage from being done. You just need to know how to get shoplifting charges dropped — or work with an experienced lawyer who does.
That’s Will & Will. With more than 35 years of combined experience, our attorneys know the ins and outs of Washington state criminal law that can help you beat your shoplifting charge. We’re ready to help you move forward and leave all this stress behind. All you have to do is reach out. Call 206-209-5585 or contact us online today.