Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Utah
Criminal Defense Attorney Stephen Howard
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Can a Utah retail theft charge be dismissed if I accidentally took something from the store?

Simply taking an item you have not paid for does not constitute retail theft or shoplifting under the Utah criminal code.  The most common Utah shoplifting cases require the prosecutor to prove that you took merchandise from a store with the "intention of retaining such merchandise" or with the "intention of depriving the merchant permanently of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the retail value of such merchandise."

Perhaps you forgot about an item you had placed on the bottom of your shopping cart.  Maybe you tried on a pair of sunglasses and left them on top of your head.  When you are charged with shoplifting in Utah, you are presumed to be innocent.  The prosecutor bears the burden of proving each element of the charge "beyond a reasonable doubt."  If it was an honest mistake, you are not guilty of a crime.

Most often, a prosecutor will not dismiss a case simply because you say you made an honest mistake.  To convince a prosecutor to dismiss a charge without trial, your attorney will have to have solid evidence to support your position.  But you may also find yourself facing the necessity of taking the case to trial.  If so, having an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer on your side can make all the difference.

Contact us now to schedule an initial consultation with Salt Lake defense attorney Stephen Howard.


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  • Selected Victories
  • Criminal Defense AttorneyDismissed - Charges of insurance fraud were brought when investigators found reason to believe that client's claim of injury was fraudulent. Client was seen kicking a soccer ball, and investigators concluded that the injury claim was false. By obtaining medical records and other administrative records, and by pointing out to the prosecutor that the alleged injury interferred with the client's ability to lift - not his ability to kick a ball - the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case.
  • Minor Possession Alcohol - MIP AttorneyDismissed - Minor in possession charge (MIP) was dismissed by prosecutor when defense analysis demonstrated that the police had failed to obtain necessary evidence against client. Police had raided a large party involving underage drinking. Several individuals were charged, but police did not obtain evidence showing that client had personally consumed or possessed alcohol. Case was dismissed.
  • Utah 402 Reduction Attorney Felony Reduced - Client with prior felony conviction was granted a 402 reduction to the misdemeanor level over the objection of the prosecutor. Based on information provided to the court in support of the defense motion, the judge ruled in favor of the defense.
  • Felony Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony charge and possible life in prison for child kidnapping. Full defense analysis of the case revealed critical legal flaws in the prosecution's case. When confronted with the defense legal analysis, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case outright without trial.
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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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