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 Trial AttorneyNot Guilty - Client was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly pointing handgun at and threatening another driver during a road rage incident. Defense investigation and analysis, combined with effective cross-examination at trial indicated the alleged victim was the initial aggressor and suported client's self-defense claim. Jury acquitted client at trial.
  • Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony drug distribution charge and potential life in prison. Charges were based on allegations that client had sold drugs to an undercover police officer, then made a full confession. Successful mitigation work resulted in negotiated offer of misdemeanor plea-in-abeyance and ultimate dismissal of case.
  • Utah Expungement Lawyer Expunged - Client with prior conviction for violent felony was ineligible for expungement through the courts. A successful 2-step reduction restored expungement eligibility and ultimately led to the court's decision to grant the requested expungement.
  • Utah Burglary Attorney Not Guilty - Client was charged with residential felony burglary and theft charges. Effective cross-examination of alleged victim at preliminary hearing resulted in an admission by the alleged victim that the charges were based on a false report to police, made for the purpose of getting revenge against the defendant. Case was dismissed outright.
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  • Utah Misdemeanor Attorney Salt Lake Can I handle a Utah misdemeanor from out-of-state? - Even if you do not intend to take your case to trial, a misdemeanor criminal offense in Utah can require multiple court appearances to reach a resolution. If you have been charged with a crime in Utah, but are not a Utah resident, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you resolve the case without returning to the state. . . .
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Being charged with a crime is not the same as being convicted. But just being charged can affect more than you may have imagined - jail, job, family, bills, rent or mortgage. It can feel like everything has gone wrong, and may you wonder if anything can go right. But facing criminal prosecution does not mean giving up hope....

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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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