How to Get Shoplifting Charges Dropped

Shoplifting charges can have serious consequences, including fines, probation, and even jail time. If you find yourself facing shoplifting charges, it is important to understand your rights and explore all possible options for getting the charges dropped. In this article, we will discuss effective strategies and steps you can take to increase your chances of having shoplifting charges dropped.

Understanding Shoplifting Charges

Before diving into the strategies, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of what shoplifting charges entail. Shoplifting is the act of intentionally taking merchandise from a store without paying for it. The specific laws and penalties for shoplifting vary from state to state, but generally, shoplifting is considered a criminal offense.

Shoplifting charges can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the stolen goods and the individual’s criminal history. Misdemeanor charges typically involve lower-value items, while felony charges are reserved for more significant thefts.

1. Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

One of the most important steps you can take when facing shoplifting charges is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. A skilled attorney will have a deep understanding of the legal system and can guide you through the process, increasing your chances of getting the charges dropped.

When choosing an attorney, look for someone with specific experience in handling shoplifting cases. They will be familiar with the relevant laws and defenses that can be used to challenge the charges. Additionally, a good attorney will be able to negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf and explore alternative resolutions, such as diversion programs or plea bargains.

2. Gather Evidence to Support Your Defense

Building a strong defense is crucial when trying to get shoplifting charges dropped. Collecting evidence that supports your innocence or raises doubts about the prosecution’s case can significantly strengthen your defense.

Some types of evidence that may be helpful include:

  • Surveillance footage: If the alleged shoplifting incident was captured on video, obtaining and reviewing the footage can provide valuable evidence.
  • Witness statements: If there were any witnesses present during the incident, their statements can help corroborate your version of events.
  • Receipts or proof of purchase: If you have receipts or other evidence showing that you purchased the items in question, it can help establish that you did not steal them.
  • Alibi evidence: If you can provide evidence that you were elsewhere at the time of the alleged shoplifting, it can cast doubt on your involvement.

3. Challenge the Prosecution’s Evidence

In addition to gathering evidence to support your defense, it is important to carefully examine the prosecution’s evidence and look for weaknesses or inconsistencies. Challenging the prosecution’s evidence can create doubt and increase the chances of getting the charges dropped.

Some common strategies for challenging the prosecution’s evidence include:

  • Chain of custody: If the prosecution cannot establish a clear chain of custody for the alleged stolen items, it can raise doubts about their authenticity.
  • Proving intent: Shoplifting charges require proof of intent to steal. If you can demonstrate that you had no intention of stealing the items, it can weaken the prosecution’s case.
  • Illegal search and seizure: If the evidence against you was obtained through an illegal search or seizure, it may be possible to have it excluded from the case.
  • Witness credibility: If the prosecution’s case relies heavily on witness testimony, challenging the credibility of those witnesses can undermine their case.

4. Explore Diversion Programs

Diversion programs offer an alternative to traditional criminal prosecution for certain non-violent offenses, including shoplifting. These programs aim to rehabilitate offenders and address the underlying causes of their behavior, rather than focusing solely on punishment.

Participating in a diversion program typically involves completing certain requirements, such as attending counseling or educational programs, performing community service, or paying restitution to the victim. If you successfully complete the program, the charges against you may be dropped.

5. Negotiate a Plea Bargain

In some cases, it may be beneficial to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor. A plea bargain involves pleading guilty to a lesser offense or accepting a reduced sentence in exchange for dropping the shoplifting charges.

When negotiating a plea bargain, it is important to have an experienced attorney by your side. They can advocate for your best interests and ensure that any agreement reached is fair and in your favor.


Shoplifting charges can have serious consequences, but there are strategies you can employ to increase your chances of getting the charges dropped. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney, gathering evidence to support your defense, challenging the prosecution’s evidence, exploring diversion programs, and negotiating a plea bargain are all effective strategies to consider.

Remember, every case is unique, and the outcome will depend on various factors, including the specific circumstances of the alleged shoplifting incident and your criminal history. Consulting with an attorney who specializes in shoplifting cases is crucial to understanding your options and building a strong defense.


1. Can I get shoplifting charges dropped if I return the stolen items?

Returning the stolen items may not automatically result in the charges being dropped, but it can be a mitigating factor that your attorney can use to negotiate a more favorable outcome. It shows remorse and a willingness to make amends, which can be taken into consideration by the prosecutor or judge.

2. What are the potential consequences of shoplifting charges?

The potential consequences of shoplifting charges vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of the case. They can range from fines and probation to community service, restitution, and even jail time. Repeat offenses or high-value thefts are more likely to result in severe penalties.

3. Can I represent myself in a shoplifting case?

While it is possible to represent yourself in a shoplifting case, it is generally not recommended. Criminal defense attorneys have extensive knowledge of the legal system and can navigate the complexities of the case more effectively. They can also provide valuable advice and guidance based on their experience with similar cases.

4. How long does a shoplifting case typically take to resolve?

The duration of a shoplifting case can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the court’s schedule, and the backlog of cases. Some cases may be resolved relatively quickly, while others can take several months or even years to reach a resolution.

5. Can I get shoplifting charges expunged from my record?

In some cases, it may be possible to

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