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 - Contractor was charged with theft by deception for allegedly misusing customer funds and failing to complete work that had been agreed upon. A successful motion to quash on legal grounds following the bindover order at preliminary hearing resulted in a complete dismissal of all charges.
  • Criminal Appeals Defense AttorneyDismissed on Appeal - DUI case was dismissed after a successful appeal where the Utah Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's denial of the defense motion to suppress. Without the suppressed evidence, the prosecutor acknowledged that they did not have sufficient evidence to proceed to trial and the case was dismissed.
  • Utah Probation Attorney Released - Client absconded for more than 10 years from felony probation with Adult Probation and Parole. At an order to show cause hearing, prosecutor argued aggressively for prison. Based on effective mitigation efforts by the defense, the judge agreed to release client without further jail.
  • Violent Crimes Assalt Defense UtahDismissed at Preliminary Hearing - Client charged with aggravated robbery and facing life in prison. Full case analysis and consultation with client allowed the development of a strong defense strategy. Effective cross-examination of the alleged victim at the preliminary hearing resulted in an outright dismissal of all charges by the judge.
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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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