DC Shoplifting Lawyer

For those accused of shoplifting, it is important to understand what specific offense is being charged and prepare yourself accordingly. In both regards a DC shoplifting lawyer can be extremely helpful by preparing an individual for what to expect and keeping them informed throughout the entirety of the process. Additionally, an experienced theft lawyer in DC can begin investigating the charges alleged against an individual and craft a strong defense, which will ultimately help in getting a fair resolution for their case. To learn more about the steps that can be taken or to begin building your defense, call today.


Generally, shoplifting is where a person takes goods or products from a retailer, intending to permanently steal them. One example of shoplifting is taking food from a grocery or convenience store and leaving the store without paying for the food. This even includes an individual eating food in the grocery store and then leaving without paying for what they consumed.

Another example of shoplifting is when a person tries on clothing in the fitting room of a department store and then conceals the clothing and leaves the store without paying for the clothing.

Elements of Shoplifting (DC Code Section 22-3213)

The prosecution must prove the following elements before a person can be convicted of shoplifting:

  • The accused purposely took the products or goods which were for sale
  • The goods belong to someone other than the accused
  • That the goods were for sale at the time the accused took possession of them
  • That the accused intended to steal the property without providing payment

It is difficult to prove exactly what was in the accused’s mind at the time of the alleged offense, but the prosecution can point to circumstances that may show the accused intended to steal an item without paying for it. For example, evidence that the accused was continuously looking around before placing items in his pockets and leaving the store would be considered evidence of his intention to take the items without paying. A shoplifting attorney in DC meanwhile try to demonstrate why this is not accurate.


It is possible to be sentenced to jail time, payment of a fine, or probation, depending on the facts of the case and the person’s prior criminal history. The maximum punishment an individual can receive for a shoplifting conviction is 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both. If an individual does not have any other criminal history, it is possible that with the help of a DC shoplifting lawyer a judge would sentence them to a term of probation rather than time in jail.

Owner’s Rights in Shoplifting Cases

If the owner of the store (or whoever is in authority at the store) suspects an individual of shoplifting, they have the right to detain the person until police arrive. If any store owner detains someone, they must:

  • Have probable cause to believe that you shoplifted
  • Ensure that the manner of detention was reasonable
  • Notify law enforcement in a reasonable amount of time
  • Release you to law enforcement in a reasonable amount of time

When this occurs, it is advisable for the individual to let themselves be detained, rather than trying to escape or become argumentative.  Any statements the suspect makes to private security officers or store staff can also be used as evidence in court, so it is advisable to refrain from answering any questions or making any statements prior to speaking with a DC shoplifting lawyer.

Will Security Be a Witness if the Case Goes to Trial?

A security officer, store owner, or store employee will be asked by the prosecution to serve as a witness if the case goes to trial. The prosecution will want them as witnesses in order to prove its case against the individual. And most likely the security officer, store owner, or employee will want to testify, as a way of preventing theft in their store.

Contact a DC Shoplifting Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation

It is helpful to have a DC shoplifting attorney by one’s side during all stages of the case. The attorney will know what, if any, independent investigation needs to be done at the beginning of the case. As the case progresses, the attorney will be that individual’s advocate in negotiating with the government, and in court when speaking to the judge. To learn how your charges can be minimized, call and schedule a consultation today.