Shoplifting Defense Attorney

Stephen Howard — Stone River Law

Real Experience. Real Results.

Shoplifting Defense Attorney

Last Updated

Cottonwood Heights and Holladay Justice Court

Retail theft is a criminal offense that can carry consequences including jail time and substantial financial penalties. If you are facing prosecution for shoplifting in the Holladay Justice Court, the assistance of an experienced criminal attorney can be critical. Serving clients throughout Utah, criminal defense attorney

Stephen Howard provides legal services to clients facing charges from Cottonwood Heights and Holladay in the Holladay Justice Court. He has successfully protected his clients’ rights in thousands of serious felony and misdemeanor cases. Contact us today to arrange for an initial confidential attorney consultation.

Penalties for Retail Theft in the Holladay Justice Court

The severity of a criminal charge for shoplifting in the Holladay Justice Court can depend on the value of the merchandise involved. Values of less than $500 will result in a class B misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine (including surcharge) of up to $1,900.

Values of $500 or more can result in class A misdemeanor or felony charges. Because retail theft is considered an “enhanceable” offense, a felony charge can be filed even for values under $500 if the defendant has been twice before convicted of a theft-related offense.

The jurisdiction of the Holladay Justice Court is limited to class B misdemeanor charges and lower. Retail theft charges at the class A misdemeanor or felony level that occur within the borders of Holladay must be filed in the district court.

In addition to penalties imposed by the Holladay Justice Court in the criminal case, a person who commits retail theft may also face civil liability for treble damages, court costs, and attorney fees.

Elements of a Shoplifting Charge

Shoplifting laws in Utah provide several variations under which a person can be convicted of the crime of retail theft. Most retail theft charges in the Holladay Justice Court will involve allegations that the defendant took merchandise or property that was “displayed, held, stored, or offered for sale in a retail mercantile establishment” and that the defendant acted with the “intention of depriving the merchant permanently of the possession, use, or benefit of such merchandise without paying the retail value of” that merchandise.

Utah’s retail theft statute also prohibits removal by a customer of a shopping cart from the store premises (leaving the store’s parking lot with the shopping cart). Clerks or cashiers who intentionally under-ring merchandise for a customer can also be charged with retail theft. Utah’s shoplifting laws also prohibit switching price tags to obtain a lower price.

Your Rights if You are Arrested for Shoplifting

Utah law provides that “any merchant who has probable cause to believe that a person has committed retail theft may detain such person, on or off the premises of a retail mercantile establishment, in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable length of time. . . .” In many cases, store security will detain a suspected shoplifter until police arrive.

Whether you are detained by store security or by police, you have a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. It is generally advisable to refuse to answer any questions without your attorney being present. You are under no legal obligation to explain your actions or make any statement, either to store employees or to police.

If store security or other employees attempt to detain you, pushing, hitting, or otherwise using force to try to avoid being detained can lead to much more serious charges. In addition to a potential criminal charge of assault, a charge of robbery could be filed instead of shoplifting.

Utah law governing robbery includes the use of force in committing, attempting to commit, or fleeing following the commission of any theft. Pushing or hitting a store employee while trying to avoid being detained for shoplifting can turn a minor misdemeanor offense into a much more serious felony robbery charge.

Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer for the Holladay Justice Court

If you are facing retail theft or other criminal charges in the Holladay Justice Court, you should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. Before appearing for an arraignment, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand the processes you will be facing and can assist in developing a defense strategy aimed at achieving the best possible result for your case.

Stephen Howard is an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer who has successfully protected his clients’ rights in thousands of serious felony and misdemeanor cases during his career. He has a track record of achieving real results.

Contact us today to schedule an initial attorney consultation.