Retail stores take shoplifting very seriously, and certain chains even post asset protection personnel near the exits to mitigate the risk of theft. This might lead to a sense of fear when you walk out and realize that you took an item without paying.
If an employee or security camera catches you in the act of shoplifting, you might jump to the conclusion that you need to prepare a criminal defense strategy for yourself. Whether or not you will actually receive a criminal charge, however, depends on certain circumstances.
How can accidental shoplifting occur?
Shoplifting is a common term for petit theft of goods valued less than $750, which Florida statutes define as a misdemeanor. It is common for shoppers and cashiers alike to miss small items at the bottom of a shopping cart. Even in self-checkout lanes, there is a possibility that you might unintentionally toss something into a bag before scanning. While it is surely hard to miss larger items or expensive electronics, anyone can be guilty of making an honest mistake when it comes to a small item here and there.
How can you defend yourself in an accidental shoplifting case?
Many instances of accidental shoplifting can come to a simple resolution by explaining the misunderstanding and offering to pay for the items in question. Matters can worsen if there is evidence, such as security footage, which suggests malicious intent behind the action. You may have no choice but to prepare an advocation for yourself in court.
Retail employees understand that simple accidents occur all the time, especially because customers are often in a rush. Unless there is evidence that paints you as an intentional shoplifter, you are not likely to receive a criminal charge for an honest mistake.