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Criminal Defense Attorney Stephen Howard
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Salt Lake Retail Theft Defense Attorney

A shoplifting conviction in Salt Lake City can start as a class B misdemeanor. But a retail theft charge can be filed as a felony if the merchandise taken is more valuable or if the defendant has too many prior theft convictions. While it may be tempting to view shoplifting as a minor charge, the consequences of a conviction can be serious. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help give you the best chance of a positive outcome for your case. Based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard has protected the rights of his clients in thousands of serious misdemeanor and felony cases. Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation.

Legal Definition of Shoplifting

Utah Criminal Lawyer Retail TheftShoplifting charges in Salt Lake City are typically filed under the Utah criminal code section 76-6-602, which defines the acts constituting "retail theft." This statute prohibits a variety of conduct, including changing price tags, removing an item from its box or container, under-ringing of merchandise by a cashier, and even removing a shopping cart from store premises. Perhaps the most common form of retail theft occurs when a person takes possession, conceals, carries away, or transfers merchandise from a retail store, without paying for the merchandise and with the intent to deprive the merchant of the value of the merchandise.

One commonly held misconception regarding retail theft is that a person cannot be charged with retail theft unless they leave the store with the merchandise. This is not true. Utah law prohibits even taking possession of merchandise, if the person has the requisite mental intent and has not paid for the item. Of course, it is easier that the person intended to commit retail theft if the person has left the store without paying for the merchandise. But if the prosecutor can prove that the person had the required intent, a theft charge is often filed when the person did not leave the store before being "caught."

Do I need an attorney for a shoplifting charge?

Retail theft is often viewed as a relatively "minor" criminal charge. But the effects of a conviction can be serious and long-lasting.

A conviction for shoplifting can carry the potential for jail or prison time, plus thousands of dollars in fines. Any criminal record can also make it more difficult to find a job.

Expungement of a retail theft charge is possible (assuming a person does not have too many other convictions), but reducing the level of the offense or obtaining a plea-in-abeyance dismissal can be important ways to shorten the waiting period for expungement eligibility.

Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can help you achieve the best results in your case.

Finding a Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney

Class B misdemeanor retail theft charges in Salt Lake City are typically filed in the Salt Lake City Justice Court. Felony or class A misdemeanor charges for retail theft are filed in the district court. Regardless of the level of the offense, the consequences are potentially serious. It is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before making any decisions regarding your case.

Stephen Howard has defended clients in theft-related cases ranging from shoplifting to aggravated robbery, and virtually everything in between. His track record includes not guilty verdicts, dismissals, and appellate reversals in some of the most serious crimes on the books in Utah.

Based in Salt Lake City, Mr. Howard offers legal services to clients throughout Utah. Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation.


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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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